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Sustainability of Energy and Material Demand: Reducing the Demand for Steel

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Meetings begin at 5.45pm with drinks; the talk follows at 6.00pm

Energy use has always been linked to human progress. This has been particularly evident since the Industrial Revolution, when unprecedented improvements in the standards of living required new energy resources to supply increasing energy uses. Most of the potential use of energy resources have been applied to produce bulk materials required to manufacture most products. From these materials, steel alone is responsible for around a quarter of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions and its production continues increasing. In this talk, the historical energy uses in the UK are reviewed and the role that steel making has had in the use of potential energy is analysed. The iron and steel industry was the greatest energy user in the UK during the 19th century in the UK. Since then, steel making requires much less energy, although the existing improvement potentials are currently not as great as in the past. Besides, existing improvement potentials are not enough to deliver the scale of reductions in greenhouse gases emissions that are required to meet existing climate targets. Therefore, reducing the impact of steel will require a reduction in the demand for steel. Historical uses of steel are examined and an assessment of prospective steel uses provides some insights on opportunities for steel demand reduction.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society talks series.

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