As a sector with a high level of energy consumption, steel companies like Aperam must take specific steps to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve energy savings. Whereas the standard steel-making process demands that carbon add-ins be made during the melting process, Aperam is anything but standard. In fact, we are the only steel mill in the world that produces steel using 100% charcoal as a raw material. Because it is produced from a clean and renewable energy source, we classify our product as ‘Green Steel’.
But sustainability is about more than just production, it’s also about applications. Thanks to its recyclability, durability, versatility, ease-of-use, cleanliness and aesthetic appeal, many of the applications that will soon define how we live are embracing the benefits of stainless steel – making it the material of the future.
Aperam is committed to investing in innovative applications that are environmentally friendly and that will help reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Take for example the automobile sector, where the main breakthrough technology is the Fuel Cell (FC), a viable alternative to the traditional combustion engine.
Fuel Cells produce electricity via the electrochemical conversion of hydrogen and oxygen. Resulting in only a small amount of lost or wasted energy, which is emitted as water and heat. In other words, Fuel Cells produce clean energy. However, a single Fuel Cell only provides approximately 1V of power – nowhere near enough to drive a car.
To provide the necessary level of power, Fuel Cells must be connected using bipolar plates to form a stack. These bipolar plates assure, among others, gas supply and electrical conductivity. Consequently, the material must be a good electrical conductor, resistant to corrosion, suitable for stamping, recyclable and with a competitive price to enable mass production.
Stainless steel fits perfectly with these targets, especially due to its corrosion resistance. But what makes it a material of choice is also a disadvantage because its protective surface layer is insulating.
Luckily, Aperam has a solution.
Because manufacturing bipolar plates is a time consuming and costly process that involves stamping, welding and coating one part at a time, the viability of fuel cells remains in question. To streamline this process, Aperam has developed AION – an innovative process for producing ultra-thin, homogeneous coating.
AION, Aperam’s pre-coated stainless steel for fuel cell stacks, applies the coating directly to the stainless steel coil prior to stamping. As a result, it comes ready-made for plate shaping. Furthermore, its high-performance coating makes it a perfect match for PEM requirements (e.g., conductive bipolar plates).
In summary: Fuel Cells require a material that acts as an electrical conductor, is suitable for stamping and recycling, facilitates mass-production at a competitive price, and is all-around sustainable. AION, Aperam’s pre-coated stainless steel solution for fuel cell stacks, ticks all these boxes.
From how we differentiate ourselves from the competition to our strategies for entering new markets – innovation is what drives Aperam into the future. As is seen in our innovative AION solution and the many other innovative examples showcased here, Aperam has put innovation in the driver’s seat.
By investing in an evolving innovation pipeline today,
we guarantee that Aperam will remain the first choice for sustainable stainless steel products tomorrow.