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ETIA08 Field Trip to VOEST Alpine Linz visiting the “hot giant”

On 22nd October, ETIA 8 visited the largest industrial complex in Austria, the VOEST Alpine steelworks in Linz. After leaving Vienna at 9.30am, the group set off to Linz with a mixture of excitement and curiosity; the first such excursion of the academic year. Arriving at the site before midday, the group had lunch in the rooftop café of the visitor centre and joined by two experts from the Environmental department of VOEST Alpine Linz. Between them, they explained how VOEST Alpine was constantly striving to improve its environmental credentials; pioneering and adopting ‘Best Available Techniques’ and constantly refining each stage of the process to ensure maximum efficiency and minimum waste.

After lunch, the group was taken on a bus tour of the 5,2km2 site, with bus driver Günther and tour guide Frau Breitenfelder ensuring the group safely navigated the 80km of roads within the site. The first stop was to the viewing platform at ‘hot giant’, the largest blast furnace on site and one of the tallest buildings in Linz, responsible for the production of 8400 tonnes of pig iron per day. After a short animation explaining the processes inside, the windows opened to reveal the impressive site of the freshly unplugged furnace spewing molten pig iron and slag out of the main chamber, filling the room with immense light and heat. The group also got to witness the process by which 12m long steel slabs were heated and rolled out to some 2-4km long, depending on the thickness. As the tour continued, the impression became more and more clear that VOEST Alpine Linz is effectively a city within a city, with an on-site fire service, educational facilities and even healthcare provisions to rival those of a small city. The trip ended with a tour through the new visitor centre, with exhibitions detailing the results of VOEST’s dedication to remaining at the cutting edge of the steel and technology industries, before the group made their way back to Vienna, suitably impressed and inspired with what they had seen.

Philipp Jones (ETIA08)

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