Purdue Northwest gets $7 million federal grant to improve steelmaking process


Frank Mrvan, now congressman for the 1st District of Indiana, tours Purdue Northwest’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation in 2020.

Purdue University Northwest researchers at the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation are leading a team using a $7 million federal grant to improve the steelmaking process.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy awarded PNW and the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium $7,048,766 for the development of a next-generation Integrated Virtual Blast Furnace to improve energy efficiency and emissions in real time and to develop a virtual training model.

 “We are very grateful for this prestigious award by the Department of Energy and the strong support from our university, collaborators and supporters,” said Chenn Zhou, CIVS director and NIPSCO Distinguished Professor of Engineering Simulation. “Our top-notch project team will generate an innovative, cutting-edge solution that will benefit blast furnaces in northwest Indiana and throughout the United States.”

Congressman Frank Mrvan, who visited CIVS last year, said he looks forward to supporting the work of CIVS.

“I congratulate PNW Chancellor Thomas Keon and Dr. Chenn Zhou, director of CIVS, for successfully obtaining this outstanding federal resource from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office,” Mrvan said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to tour CIVS last year, and understand the incredible benefit that the research at Purdue Northwest provides our industrial manufacturing base. Their capabilities are critical to the strength of our regional economy and the ability of northwest Indiana steelworkers and tradesmen to utilize their skills with innovative technology and be a global leader in manufacturing. I will continue to seek opportunities to support federal programs that promote cutting-edge manufacturing and innovation right here in Indiana’s First Congressional District.”

 Set to begin this spring, the three-year grant will allow CIVS to bring together a team of experts from universities, national laboratories and industry. The project will provide the U.S. steel industry with a unique and powerful platform for improving operational and energy efficiency in industrial blast furnaces both offline and in real time.

The project is expected to have a significant impact by reducing energy consumption by 4.5% to 10% in blast furnace and downstream processes, improving productivity and product quality, and reducing emissions from the manufacturing process. The project is also expected to generate education and training modules for students, engineers and operators to provide critically needed workforce development within the steel industry.

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