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Meet Professor Veena Sahajwalla -

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Meet Professor Veena Sahajwalla

Producer: Ingrid Arnott


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6 March 2008

It's no surprise Professor Veena Sahajwalla reads the history of steel making in her spare
time. From a very young age she knew she was going to be an engineer, and she was determined to be
an environmentally friendly one. Veena's research using waste plastic as a source of carbon to make
steel has led a major manufacturer to take up her research with great results. Veena's now
experimenting using waste rubber tyres. Meet the woman who's helping to reduce our landfill by
turning it into a useful resource.


Narration: I've come a long way since that little kid growing up in Mumbai.

Professor Sahajwalla: Did you know that oxygen makes steel making so much more faster?

Professors Sahajwalla's Daughters: Mum! Who cares!?

Professor Sahajwalla: Science to me is more than just a job.

Taking my scientific results out into the real industrial world is so rewarding.

Growing up in Mumbai was an amazing experience. That of course is the industrial heart of India.
You'd always drive past these grungy, dirty factories alongside highways and you know, I'd often
wonder, I wonder what they do in there, you know. What are they building?

It would always fascinate me. I wasn't you'd say your typical girl growing up.

My mum's a doctor and my dad's an engineer. Of course, being a typical Indian household, for a girl
they thought she'll be a doctor.

I, of course decided to be an engineer.

Well I work here at the University of NSW and I'm a professor in materials science and engineering
and my area of research is sustainable materials.

We look at different ways, innovative and creative ways in which we can recycle waste materials.

Well in 2004 we were looking at how we can use plastics in the making of steel as a source of
carbon, so that was our aim.

It's been three years since you can say the dream has come alive. It's actually been taken up into
a steel plant, right here in Australia and we're really excited about the fact that it works in an
industrial scale furnace.

Just like the waste plastics rubber tyres is another big environmental headache for everyone in the
world. Right here in Australia, we basically use about eighteen million tyres per annum. But here's
an exciting solution we can actually use waste rubber tyres as a carbon resource in the way of
steel making.

We shred the rubbers off the tyre we then mix these shreds up with coke and then introduced into
the electric furnace process for slag foaming. The slag foam that's in fact forming on top of
liquid steel, acts like a nice insulating blanket and the role of that slag foam of course is to
minimize the heat losses, and as a result of that, the process becomes more energy efficient.

It's a win win situation.

When I take my lab coat off I'm one of the judges on the new inventors show at ABC. And of course
that passion for experimenting and finding out things, you know, I bring that back home with me, so
if I'm attempting to cook, note I've said attempting to cook. I might want to try out a few
different ingredients... I don't guarantee what the outcomes might be like but nevertheless, I have
fun doing it...It's looking like pretty reactive sort of stuff...

Professors Sahajwalla's Daughters: Dad!!!