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Deakin University is continuing to build its research ties with the booming Chinese iron and steel industry.
The Research and Development Centre of Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corporation (WISCO) have formalised their nascent relationship with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
WISCO is one of China’s top three steel companies and the seventh largest steel-producing businesses in the world.
The partnership with Deakin is part of the company’s plans to develop its business by placing more focus on science and technology innovation.
The R&D Centre is ranked sixth out of 575 China state recognised enterprise technical centres and in 2009 won the “State-Recognized Enterprise Technical Centre Achievement Award”.
Director of Deakin’s Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (ITRI) and Victoria’s first Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, Professor Peter Hodgson, said the signing brought together two dynamic forces – a major Chinese steel company with a high rate of technical development and Australian research expertise, particularly in steel processing, from ITRI.
“These are very early days, with both organisations exploring the breadth and scope of our future collaboration,” said Professor Hodgson, who is also a a globally recognised expert on metal processing,.
“It is expected that collaborative research projects in a range of areas related to new steel product and process developments will follow from this visit.
“Deakin is already conducting leading edge research on advanced high strength steels for the automotive industry and at a fundamental level we are examining the development of novel steel properties through manipulation in structure at the atomic level.
“These and other areas are of interest to WISCO as they aim to enhance the range of steels they produce.”
Professor Hodgson said the visit by the delegation and the MOU signing were an exciting step for research in Australia.
It follows visits to China by Professor Hodgson and his colleagues Professor Xungai Wang and Associate Professor Lingxue Kong.
“It will be a valuable opportunity to showcase our research and technology and the Geelong region to a major international player,” Professor Hodgson said.
The Wisco delegation comprised:
Professor Jibin Liu, an expert on steel product development and welding research, spoke positively about WISCO’s current R&D focus and their recent work.
“The R&D Centre of WISCO has successfully created a large number of up-market and famous brand products - silicon steel, automotive steel, high-performance structural steel, boutique long products, etc. that are widely used in China national key projects,” he said.
“In order to support WISCO developing into a global enterprise, the R&D Centre is pursuing opportunities to work with outstanding research organisations in the world.
“During this visit, it is confirmed that Deakin University and the R&D Centre of WISCO have a common interest in undertaking fundamental and applied research on metal (steel) forming and processing.
“Professor Hodgson is a leading expert in the field of steel processing, his research in the 1990s on ultrafine ferrite left a deep impression on me.
“We now know more detail about Peter’s research, the development of new alloys, and the downstream ferrous and non-ferrous manufacturing processes associated with the automotive industry.
"There are spaces for us to co-work.”
Professor Hodgson said the two organisations hoped to develop research collaborations including the appointment of key research scientists as well as exploring the possibilities of joint and dedicated research laboratories.
As well as the iron and steel industry, Deakin University has been forging important collaborations with the Chinese automotive market.
The Sino-Australia Initiative for Automotive Materials and Technologies (iAMT) was officially opened in Hefei last year by Mr Christopher Wright, the Australian Deputy Consul-General in China.
The iAMT is a research consortium between Deakin University and Hefei University of Technology (HFUT) in advanced automotive materials and technologies. It is one of the most important recent developments for both the Australian and Chinese automotive industry and was headline news in national media in China.
“This will support Australian components companies in accessing the huge Chinese market,” said Associate Professor Kong, who is Deakin’s coordinator for the iAMT.
Deakin’s automotive research was also on display at the Shanghai World Expo last month.