KTH Royal Institute of Technology

New sustainable composites by uniting cemented carbides and advanced high-strength steels

  • Circularity and Replacement
  • Design & Modelling
Academic project

Research question 

Cemented carbides are among the most important materials within metal cutting and mining equipment. They have exhibited excellent performance when their hard phase, tungsten carbide, is bound by cobalt (Co). However, the carcinogenicity of Co powder and its availability mainly in conflict zones, have created a driving force for its substitution with a less harmful alternative. Advanced high-strength steel, with improved strength and ductility, through a transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP) effect, may present a suitable binder alternative to not only substitute Co but also pave the path for a completely new group of composites for applications not yet foreseen.  In this project, thermodynamic and kinetic-based models, Ab initio calculations, and finite element analysis are used to explore different processing conditions and sets of compositions.  

Sustainability aspects

This project aims to contribute towards achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals. The new composite material has the potential to boost efficiency and expand the range of applications e.g. a drilling tool that can promote wider use of geothermal energy which all align with the goal of achieving affordable and clean energy (Goal #7). Furthermore, the improvement of hard metals and the efficient usage of existing resources, through the implementation of machining techniques and other innovative technologies, will contribute towards achieving the objective of establishing a zero-waste industry, as outlined in goal #9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure). Finally, the elimination of the Co in the manufacturing process will reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and minimize the risk of their release. This combined with the possibility of improved performance, resulting in longer service life and less waste, aligns with Goal #12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

researcher photo

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Annika Borgenstam



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