Auckland process technology company Avertana has won a leading global engineering award, taking out the Sustainability category at the respected IChemE Global Awards, an annual worldwide competition for excellence in chemical engineering, for its process that turns industrial waste from steelmaking into essential raw materials.
The IChemE Global Awards celebrate chemical and process engineering excellence. Now in their 25th year, they are widely considered the world's most prestigious chemical engineering awards, Avertana has previously been a finalist in the awards, in 2016 and 2017, in the SME category. This year, as a larger and more mature business, it entered the Sustainability award. Former winners in this category include chemical industry leaders such as Johnson Matthey Davy Technology, Petronas and BASF.
The awards are judged by a panel of senior figures in the chemical and process industries and Members of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, with up to 30 judges scrutinising each years’ entries. Winners were announced at the IChemE Global Awards Dinner on 7 November 2019 in Hull, UK.
Avertana has spent the past five years developing a world-first process that refines slag, a by-product of the steel industry, into a suite of commodity raw materials used to make everyday products, with no residual waste. Avertana’s technology not only consumes the solid by-products of steelmaking but also avoids mining and further waste generation by conventional industrial processes.
CEO Sean Molloy said “This is an incredible result for our firm and its technology, especially considering the quality of all the finalists in our category, and the calibre of former winners. I’m really proud of our team’s accomplishment in achieving this level of international recognition.”
Working with slag from BlueScope New Zealand Steel, as well as samples obtained from steel mills in China, Russia, and South Africa, Avertana has now confirmed that its process is applicable to more than 200 million tonnes of slag globally, providing a global platform for technology deployment.
Using slag as the input to make raw materials for manufacturing has some surprising sustainability benefits. Avertana’s process consumes 4-6 tonnes of slag to make a tonne of titanium pigment, which makes up around 80% of the revenue from a factory using the technology. The balance is made into chemicals used in water treatment and fertilisers, as well as inputs to make building materials such as cement and wallboard.
Compared with sourcing the same raw materials from conventional mining and chemical manufacturing processes, the technology has a significantly smaller carbon footprint, while at the same time avoiding the mining and processing of natural resources.
Avertana was also recently named a finalist in the inaugural Trans-Tasman Innovation Awards and has previously been recognised by the Cleantech Group and ICIS Chemical Business as a leader in environmental innovation. For full results of the awards, see the IChemE awards announcement here: official press release