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ArcelorMittal Chair of Steel Construction: 10 years of collaboration

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Published on Thursday, 11 February 2021

Launched in 2011 by the University of Luxembourg and ArcelorMittal, the Chair of Steel Construction has achieved numerous successes thanks to the support and motivation of both partners. Many new projects are expected in the coming years.

From 2011 to 2021, the chair has been renewed twice, each time with different teaching and research orientations in line with the industrial needs. The ArcelorMittal Chair of Steel Construction has been conducted by Prof. Christoph Odenbreit who heads the laboratory of steel and steel composite construction at the University of Luxembourg. For ten years, Prof. Odenbreit with the help of four senior researchers (Oliver Hechler, Renata Obiala, Matthias Braun and Jie Yang) and 11 doctoral candidates have managed to run 11 research projects and finish successfully their PhD thesis, published about 25 papers in renowned journals, participated with about 66 contributions at conferences and gave each year 10 lectures for bachelor and master students. ArcelorMittal has supported the Chair with a total of more than 1.6 million euros.

From façade engineering to sustainable steel structures

The first agreement (2011-2015) focused on the development of energy-efficient high-tech buildings made of steel, steel composites and glass. Four research projects were carried out to improve connections between steel beams and steel supports, to use numerical models to detect corrosion in steel sheet piling, to secure steel beams with high loads on concrete components and to examine the lifespan of steel dowels in steel composite bridges.

During the second agreement (2016-2019), the chair continued to explore in close detail the connection between steel and glass. Researcher involved in the projects also paid particular attention to optimise high-strength steel products for structural engineering and high-rise construction. In addition, the team worked in collaboration with the University of Bradford, the technical universities of Darmstadt and Stuttgart, as well as the Steel Construction Institute in London and ArcelorMittal in the framework of a Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS)/Horizon 2020 project. In the sequence of this Project, Prof. Odenbreit led a subgroup, which worked out proposals for European Standardisation.

The third agreement (2019- 2022) is dedicated – under the policy of the European Commission´s “Green Deal” - to make steel construction more efficient and sustainable. The main goal is to further enable a circular economy approach for steel construction components. The Chair works on a modular systems of steel beams and connectors that would allow for the dismantling and reuse of those parts once a building has reached the end of its life cycle. This requires research in different fields: the design of the modular components that need to meet certain bearing capacity requirements, a push for standardisation of construction parts, the development of digital tools to store the history and technical specifications of each individual component.

Several recognitions for the ArcelorMittal Chair

Different works done by doctoral students in the framework of the Chair have been recognised. In 2019, Valentino Vigneri was recognised for his outstanding paper “Different load bearing mechanisms in headed stud shear connections for composite beams with profiled steel sheeting“ during the Nordic Steel Construction Conference and Dr. Andras Kozma presented his findings in a TEDx talk of University of Luxembourg.

In 2020, Maciej Chrzanowski received an FNR Award for this outstanding PhD thesis “Shear Transfer in Heavy Steel-Concrete Composite Columns with Multiple Encased Steel Profiles”.

In parallel, the Chair has substantially contributed to the elaboration of European standards in the field of steel and composite structures. In particular, the team has been actively involved in the revision of Eurocode 4 “Design of composite steel and concrete structures”.

New laboratory, new projects

As of 2021, structural tests will be carried out in the new laboratory building for structural engineering at the Halle des Essais on Belval campus. In comparison to the Laboratory at Kirchberg, this new infrastructure increases amongst others the competitiveness of the laboratory by enabling tests with much larger structural elements and bigger forces.

“The University of Luxembourg thrives to develop part of its research activities in partnership with industry. Our partnership with Arcelor Mittal is emblematic for this ambition and demonstrates our excellent collaboration and trust over the past ten years, cemented by an industry-sponsored chairs. In particular, I would like to underline the high number and quality of projects, the growing focus on sustainability and digitalisation and the recognition through the award of prestigious prizes”, comments Jens Kreisel, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Luxembourg.

“The recent FNR prize for outstanding PhD thesis is really amazing as it’s the first time that this award is given to researchers in the field of engineering. Congratulations to the team!”, says Olivier Vassart, Chief Executive Officer Steligence® at ArcelorMittal.

“The continued success of this Chair is emblematic of the strength of the relations between the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine and its industrial partners. The activities of the chair combine excellence in research, in doctoral education, as well as in teaching in engineering at the Bachelor and Master level, all supporting economic and industrial development in Luxembourg and beyond”, adds Jean-Marc Schlenker, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine (FSTM).

"I really appreciate the work done by the Chair team, who always works with dynamism and enthusiasm. Not only the excellent quality of work has been rewarded with several prizes, but we have also been able to implement couple of developments in our approach to the market. Congratulations!”, says Nicoleta Popa, Head of ArcelorMittal Global R&D Construction applications, Infrastructures and Long Products.