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Donation strengthens research in ultra high strength steels

Published: 12 June 2017

Recently, there was an inauguration of a salt bath oven in the materials lab at Luleå University of Technology. The equipment has been donated by the companies Indexator and Rototilt, with the aim of strengthening research cooperation in robust ausferritic steel between the university and the technology development company Ausferritic.

– Ausferrit enables a technology leap in ultra high strenght steels as it combines extremely high strength with extreme toughness at a reasonable cost, says Richard Larker, CTO at Ausferritic, and Research Director at Indexator and Rototilt. 25 years ago, he earned his PhD at the Department of Materials Science, Luleå University of Technology.

Beneficial mechanical properties

Richard Larker has laid a scientific basis for industrial use of ausferritic materials through past innovations, including two patented materials. Ausferritic steel has very good mechanical properties, as well as the ability to forge and roll to rod, while ausferritic iron has better moldability, can dampen vibration and also have 10% lower density.

– Ausferritic steel is formed in the salt bath owen we donated, in which a salt melt is maintained at a carefully controlled temperature. As with conventional steel hardening, the process begins with heating the steel to between 900-1000 °C and then it is rapidly cooled. The crucial difference is that the steel is not cooled as far down in temperature as usual instead kept at between 250-400 °C in the salt bath depending on the mechanical properties desired; then the steel is kept in the melting salt for conversion to ausferrit, says Richard Larker.

Finances PhD student

In addition to the equipment, companies also finance an industry postgraduate student, Per Rubin, who will work at LTU and in the new AusFerrit project. The project is funded by Vinnova with four million SEK under three years, within the framework of the strategic innovation program Metallic Materials. Seven technology companies in Sweden also invest more than three million SEK in the program, where researchers at Luleå University of Technology will contribute to further optimizing the properties of ausferritic materials.

– We are grateful for the donation and the PhD-student in ausferrit that Indexator and Rototilt finance. It will strengthen our steel research in this exciting area, says Marta-Lena Antti, Chair Professor of Materials Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.


Marta-Lena Antti

Antti, Marta-Lena - Professor and Head of Subject

Organisation: Engineering Materials, Materials Science, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics
Phone: +46 (0)920 492093
Room: E302 - Luleå»