U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal have landed U.S. Department of Energy research grants to use supercomputing to drive innovations in steelmaking that potentially would reduce energy use, improve accuracy and help make cars lighter.

The High Performance Computing for Manufacturing Program, or HPC4Mfg, awarded $1.2 million to Alcoa, AK Steel, ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel Corp. to help their research and development teams solve manufacturing challenges in the steelmaking and aluminum smelting processes. Each gets $300,000 and use of the national labs' high performance computing machines.

The aim is to help steelmakers become "more competitive, boost productivity and support American manufacturing jobs," according to an HPC4Mfg press release.

ArcelorMittal USA was awarded funding to figure out how better to produce defect-free steel slabs through its “Energy Efficient Manufacturing of Steel Slabs with the Application of High Performance Computing and Machine Learning” research project. The steelmaker hopes to make slabs right the "first time, every time" to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions, noting that the steel industry is the fourth largest energy-consuming industry in the United States and about 80 percent of the energy is used to make steel slabs through the process of continuous casting.

U.S. Steel will use its grant to improve a hot strip mill simulation model "that will provide predictions of through-thickness temperature, deformation behavior, and associated microstructure." The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker hopes to figure out how to produce thinner and wider advanced high-strength steel that would help automakers lighten the weight of vehicles by using less but stronger steel that will still protect drivers and passengers in crashes.

The research funding will help U.S. Steel improve the predictive capability of its hot strip mill simulation model, which the steelmaker said could help reduce costs, unforeseen metallurgical changes, and the number of trials needed when developing rolling practices for new grades of advanced high strength steels.

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