Steel is an essential commodity for construction and engineering. But its production is very carbon intensive. Finding ways to reduce emissions from steelmaking is critical for reducing global emissions.
Dr Suneeti Purohit is developing ways to reduce carbon in feedstocks used for steel production. She has developed a new method, called the Lime Magnetite Pellet (LMP) Process, for processing Australia’s vastly under-utilised magnetite reserves. It will also work with low-grade goethite-rich iron ores.
The LMP process has the potential to lower the CO2 emissions from the traditional ironmaking route by up to 18 percent. This is without using expensive fuels like hydrogen gas.
Australia is the largest global exporter of iron ore. This could also be a great opportunity to become a major global player in reducing CO2 footprint from the steel-making industry by exporting premium quality LMPs with lower Scope-3 emissions.
Award winning talent
In recognition of her work, Suneeti was awarded the Minerals Council of Australia 2023 Exceptional Woman in Victorian Resources .
The award recognises excellence in career achievements, leadership and advocacy of women working in the Victorian resources sector. It aims to promote inclusion in the resources sector and provide a platform for women to be role models that encourage more women into the mining industry.
An ore-inspiring fascination
Born in Kalahandi, a remote part of India, Suneeti was always drawn to science and understanding how things worked on a deeper level.
“I think my interest in science began when I was 9 years old,” says Suneeti.
“One morning I was looking at myself in a spoon while eating my breakfast. My father noticed and pointed me towards a rock. He said that the shiny spoon I was eating with was made from a rock like that. As a child I was very surprised and interested to know how they made it. That moment drove me to study science.”
Suneeti moved from her village to the city when she was just 15 years old, where she eventually began her undergraduate studies.
“When I did my undergrad, the medium of communication at the University was in English. I had to attain English speaking classes to gain the confidence to speak English,” Suneeti says.
Determined to overcome the language barriers she can now speak four different languages.
Advocating inclusion and diversity in STEM
Suneeti is passionate about making a difference for future generations and inspiring other young people to enter STEM-based careers, regardless of their background.
And part of that is creating a safe and rewarding work culture that embraces everyone to be themselves and be recognised for their work.
“I believe you should feel as comfortable at your workplace as you are working from home,” says Suneeti.
“This is possible when your colleagues are compassionate, inclusive, and respectful.
“Organisations across the world are trying to build a diverse workforce by creating new opportunities, but a crucial part is the sustainable retainment of that workforce.
“Once an organisation achieves that, new role models will be created for future generations to follow. I am proud to be a part of one such diverse and inclusive organisation as CSIRO.”
Part of this story was previously published by AusIMM.