Customer-centric R&D

In 2020, EVRAZ’ R&D centres worked to improve existing products and to extend the Group’s portfolio. Advances were made across the main product lines: rails, wheels, beams, long products, plates, tubular goods and vanadium. The products offer customers such benefits as better performance, longer product lifetimes and improved material properties to meet their growing requirements. The Group aims to continue to expand its work on basic research and new product development in 2021. EVRAZ’ R&D centres use the network and vast knowledge of the Group’s experts and metallurgists. They also set up partnerships with scientific institutions and universities to benefit from the state-of-the art research and practical applications. “Customer first” will remain the hallmark of EVRAZ’ R&D work in 2021 and beyond.

EVRAZ’ R&D System

In 2020, EVRAZ announced the creation of an integrated system of R&D centres to develop innovative products and solutions. It builds on existing R&D capacity and many projects were already in the pipeline. During the year, the R&D centres continued to work on key product areas and meeting customer requirements from the early stage of development to the final certification phase. The product development process is designed to understand client needs and unlock new market opportunities.

R&D requires significant time and resources. EVRAZ’ product development process takes place in close connection with external partners, including laboratories, scientific institutions and universities to benefit from the latest breakthroughs in the field. The Group collaborates with its customers to accelerate the process of testing and certifying products, as well as to bring them to the market, from short-term improvements to new product launches.

EVRAZ’ R&D system is designed to make full use of the product and geographical expertise of the centres. The Moscow office focuses on managing the product portfolio. The North American centre specialises in the portfolio from the Group’s US and Canadian plants and has expertise in developing high-quality line pipes, OCTG and rail products capable of withstanding the harshest environmental conditions. R&D experts in Switzerland and Tula, Russia, focus on the use of vanadium in steels and the development of new recovery technologies respectively. At NTMK, the centre concentrates on expanding the product portfolio for wheels, beams and grinding balls and is expanding its expertise to the hardening of rail heads. At ZSMK, the centre focuses on premium rail products for the Russian and export market.

EVRAZ R&D Centres

EVRAZ North America

New! R&D across EVRAZ North America has been reorganised into a single function. This newly formed structure allows for better resource and knowledge sharing and covers all product lines: line-pipe, OCTG, plates, rails and long products.

The new APEX G2HH rail – A top seller in North America

EVRAZ Pueblo has developed, patented and put into production an new ultra premium rail alloy designed to withstand the most challenging conditions in North America. The rail grade was designed to achieve 430 HB average hardness at carbon levels that are universally acceptable for all of the NA (North American) Class I Railroad customers, a benchmark only achievable in the past by increasing carbon content beyond levels deemed acceptable by many of EVRAZ’ largest railroad customers. This unique approach to alloy design, combined with state of the art head hardening, achieves superior strength and hardness levels to resist wear and rolling contact fatigue damage. It simultaneously achieves enhanced ductility and fracture toughness compared to softer rail grades.

The APEX G2HH rail has been fully qualified for running rail and special trackwork applications by five of the seven NA Class I railroads, and testing is continuing with the remaining two operators.

EVRAZ Vanadium R&D centre (East Metals AG, Zug)

New! Established in June 2020, the Vanadium R&D centre is promoting vanadium usage in the steel industry through cooperation with world-class research organisations, in order to promote sustainable and diversified demand for vanadium from the global steel industry.

Steels that are microalloyed with vanadium exhibit remarkable properties that are able to address several current challenges facing the industry. Given recent research and industrial trials, the Group has the capacity to redesign steels from the nanoscale up.

To bring these benefits to market, EVRAZ’ vanadium research is shaping steelmaking processes by coupling vanadium’s unique properties with appropriate metallurgical process designs. This results in microstructures that are precisely tailored to specific market needs and which can be produced efficiently and economically by modern steel mills.

EVRAZ ZSMK

At EVRAZ’ ZSMK R&D centre, activities include the optimisation of the chemical composition, improvement of rail properties as well as the development of manufacturing processes and regulatory documentation for new railway products. The R&D team also carries out testing and monitoring of rail performance directly on the tracks of customers and works with leading research institutions.

DT400IK rails – increased wear resistance and contact fatigue strength for work in horseshoe curves under high loads. The service conditions of the mountain pass sections of the East Siberian and Trans-Baikal Railways, part of the Trans-Siberian trunk line, are among the toughest in the world. Severe operational conditions come together, including high tonnages, low temperatures (as low as minus 60°С), a combination of track ascents and descents and small radius curves. Therefore, special rails are required for these conditions. These offer a combination of superior hardness and strength, while remaining ductile. Such a new generation rail was developed by EVRAZ ZSMK and is called the DT400IK.

EVRAZ NTMK

The NTMK plant has the most versatile product mix within the EVRAZ group, producing high-quality beams, rails, wheels, grinding balls, merchant bars and other long products for the Russian market and export destinations. Group experts have continuously expanded the product mix using the New Product Development process along with R&D work on rail head hardening technology and increasing the mechanical properties of larger sized beams and grinding balls. The requirements for wheels are steadily growing. As a result, a new R&D centre with the necessary research and testing equipment is being considered to meet future demand.

The new ECO wheel – evolution in Wheel performance. The new wheels are designed for European and Russian freight cars. They offer lower residual stresses and a high level of fatigue resistance compared to standard designs. It significantly lowers the dynamic impact of the wagon on the track. Operating costs are reduced, the lower wheel weight increases the railcar carrying capacity.

The new ECO wheel
The new ECO wheel
The new ECO wheel

EVRAZ Tula

EVRAZ’ Vanady Tula R&D centre was created to support technological improvements at the plant and to develop new technologies. Located at the hydrometallurgical plant, its primary focus is the improvement of vanadium recovery technology, along with production of value-added products, such as electrolytes for vanadium redox flow batteries. In addition, it is developing chemical and hydrometallurgical technologies for extraction of other valuable elements not currently produced by EVRAZ.

R&D partnerships

Beam Eco system

EVRAZ, in partnership with leading Russian Scientific institutes (CNIIISK, CNIIST), and engineering companies (including Ferrostroy), are creating new ideas for using beams and other innovative solutions. In addition, it focuses on implementing completed R&D projects in design and construction practices, through trials, development of codes and pilot projects.

Vanadium projects with Swerim and ASPPRC

The Advanced Steel Production and Processing Center of Colorado School of Mines (ASPPRC) is a platform where leading global steel producers, major steel consumers from the automotive and energy industries and the leading suppliers from the steel industry can meet with world class research staff and faculty to collaborate on general steelmaking and steel applications.

A bilateral R&D programme has been founded at Sweden’s Swerim, the joint research centre of the Swedish steel and metals industry and academic metallurgical institutions. The programme covers the vital needs of steel producers and steel consumers in Europe.