Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla

My Expertise

New iron making technologies (HIsmelt process, direct reduction of iron DRI / HBI); new developments in blast furnace iron making technology, ferrous & non-ferrous foundry processes; kinetics of reactions occurring in above processes.



Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla FTSE HonFIEAust directs the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Australia; delivering scientific and engineering advances in sustainability of materials and associated processes in collaboration with industry.

ARC Laureate Professor Veena Sahajwalla is revolutionising recycling science to enable global industries to safely utilise toxic and complex wastes as...view more


Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla FTSE HonFIEAust directs the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Australia; delivering scientific and engineering advances in sustainability of materials and associated processes in collaboration with industry.

ARC Laureate Professor Veena Sahajwalla is revolutionising recycling science to enable global industries to safely utilise toxic and complex wastes as low-cost alternatives to virgin raw materials and fossil fuels. As Founding Director of UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, Veena and her team are working closely with industry partners to deliver the new science, processes and technologies that will drive the redirection of many of the world’s most challenging waste streams away from landfills and back into production; simultaneously reducing costs to alleviating pressures on the environment. She is reimagining the global supply chain by demonstrating the viability of ‘mining’ our overburdened landfills to harness the wealth of useful elements like carbon, hydrogen and materials like silica, titania and metals embedded in our waste. By using precisely controlled high temperature reactions – that selectively break and reform the waste into previously unimaginable value added green materials and products. She is building an unparalleled portfolio of new science and engineering that is overcoming many of the technical limitations and cost barriers of conventional recycling that currently leaves much of our waste behind.

The Australian Research Council Georgina Sweet Laureate Fellowship, received by Professor Sahajwalla in 2014, will provide the scientific foundation for a novel concept, the environmentally and economically sustainable micro-recycling of e-waste. The 5-year program will open advanced 'niche' markets for value-added metals and alloys derived from the untapped potential of 30-50 million tonnes of hazardous e-waste generated annually worldwide.

Veena became the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Jubilee Professorship by the Indian Academy of Sciences in 2017. In 2016, she was named one of Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers by Engineers Australia. These were the latest in a long list of honours that included, in 2015, Innovation Winner of the Australian Financial Review­–Westpac 100 Women of Influence awards and Veena’s inclusion on the list of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Engineers (Engineers Australia). In 2012, Veena won the Australian Innovation Challenge (Overall Winner) as well as the GE Eco Innovation Award for Individual Excellence and a Banksia Award. Her ‘green steel’ technology was also named on the US Society for Manufacturing Engineers’ 2012 list of ‘innovations that could change the way we manufacture’. In 2011, Veena received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (outstanding achievement in the field of science) from the Government India. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2007 and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, in 2005.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla has laid the foundation for a significant legacy in establishing UNSW Australia’s world-class Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology and its unrivalled research infrastructure; in achieving ground-breaking new fundamental knowledge in her field; in translating research outcomes into major changes to sustainable industry practices internationally; in building teams and collaborative networks, and in fostering innovation and initiative to enhance the success of her students.

Professional Experience

  • Director, Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for green manufacturing, 2014- current
  • Australian Research Council (ARC) Georgina Sweet Laureate Fellow, 2015
  • Scientia Professor, UNSW, 2009
  • Director, Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT), UNSW, 2008–
  • Associate Dean (Strategic Industry Relations), Faculty of Science, UNSW, 2007 –
  • Professor (since 2004); Associate Professor (2001–04); Senior Lecturer (1996–2001); Lecturer (1994–96), UNSW


Veena is renowned for her internationally commercialised EAF ‘green’ steelmaking process that is utilising millions of waste tyres otherwise destined for landfill as a partial replacement for coke. The conceptual and scientific breakthroughs that underpin ‘green steel’ have paved the way for an unparalleled portfolio of new ‘waste to value’ science, built over years of research at the SMaRT Centre, with valuable contributions from industry partners. With her SMaRT Centre research team, Veena is overcoming the many technical limitations and cost barriers of conventional, industrial scale recycling by investigating waste at its elemental level. The world’s waste mountains are packed with useful elements like carbon, hydrogen and materials like silica, titania and metals, our industries would otherwise source from virgin resources.

Veena is facilitating the roll out of safe, cost-effective ‘waste to value’ solutions via her unique microfactory model, which brings a solution to the (waste) problem for the first time. In future, these small-scale microfactories will enable local communities to produce many of the products, materials and resources they need locally, using resources largely derived from waste. This new approach promises to disrupt today’s highly centralised, vertically integrated industrial model and its mass global markets, as agile technologies drive the decentralisation of manufacturing, with positive economic and social impacts. The first two microfactories will be unveiled on campus at UNSW in 2018 focusing on e-waste and green materials. Using Veena’s high temperature approach, e-waste can be safely transformed into valuable metal alloys, plastic 3D printer filament and other advanced materials, like silicon carbide nanoparticles; with multiple industrial uses. High quality green materials, such as benchtops, panelling and flooring, can manufactured from mixed glass and plastics and other common wastes currently destined for landfill. 

The Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT@UNSW) brings together researchers from the Faculties of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment to work with industry on the development of innovative, sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.

Achieving sustainability targets set by industry has created a need for commercially relevant and globally significant R&D. The SMaRT Centre works with industry partners to develop the fundamental and applied science underlying sustainable materials and technologies.


  • The SMaRT Centre’s Chief Investigator, Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, has received more than A$16M from ARC grant schemes (ARC Linkage, Discovery, ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub), Australian Laureate Fellowship and Georgina Sweet Award, CRC Low Carbon Living and AISRF, and industries including: OneSteel, Hyundai Steel, Brickworks, Jaylon Industries, Tersum Energy, TES-AMM Australia and LKAB. 


  • Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla FTSE HonFIEAust has over 350 refereed papers in leading journals and conference proceedings in her field.


  • Member, Editorial Board of Review, Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B, since 2004
  • Advisory Board, The Iron and Steel Institute of Japan International (2007-2010), and since 2014
  • Member, Editorial Board of Review, Resources journal, MDPI Publication, Switzerland


Patents held by Professor Veena Sahajwalla and industry partner OneSteel:

  • Veena Sahajwalla: Production of ferro-alloys: Australia patent no. 2005279678; Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, UK patent no. 1799875; Mexico patent no. 297415; New Zealand patent no. 554303; Singapore patent no. 155887; South Africa patent no. 2007/02731; USA patent no. 8021458.
  • Veena Sahajwalla: Improvements in the production of ferro-alloys: Australia patent no. 2008247330; China patent no. ZL200880013962.3; Japan patent no. 5439364; Mexico patent no. 300856;  New Zealand patent no. 580591; Singaproe patent no. 156269; South Africa patent no. 2009/07412; and USA patent no. 8070849.
  • Veena Sahajwalla, Paul O’Kane: Recarburisation method: New Zealand patent no. 591240; and South Africa patent no. 2011/01329.


Professor Veena Sahajwalla firmly believes that the benefits of science and engineering, and their global role in shaping the world we live in, must be widely understood to secure Australia’s economic future and it ensure Australians are equipped to take advantage of the rapid advances in science and technology that are transforming our daily lives. This has led her to devote considerable time and energy to community engagement and the translating of complex concepts in accessible and entertaining presentations, at conference and public events and via the media. Her interest in the multiplier effect across impact and influence is central to all of her work and core to inspiring the next generation of scientists to address environmental challenges through innovation.

Professor Sahajwalla is a regular speaker at leading industry events worldwide focusing on green manufacturing and the fourth R – ‘Reform’. In 2009 she initiated the bi-annual International Sustainability Symposium program which serves as a unique platform for connecting academia, industry, policy makers and the media. In 2015 she was invited by Ian Chubb, Chief Scientist for Australia, to join the Strategic Priority Workshop, an academic workshop promoting productive industry-research collaborations leading up to the Australian government’s National Science and Research Priorities announcement.

While already well-known and highly respected in her academic field, Veena became one of Australia’s best-known scientists and inventors through her regular appearances as a judge on the long-running ABC TV series The New Inventors. She continues her community engagement through regular school visits and public talks, her mentoring program for girls in science (Science 50:50) and regular media commentary. In the academic sphere, Veena has delivered keynote and invited speeches at some of the most prestigious research gatherings and conferences across the world in Argentina, Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA. She has also published more than 300 refereed papers in leading journals and conference proceedings in her field. Veena completed her Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia and her PhD at The University of Michigan.  

Highlights of engagement activities include:

  • 2016, Keynote address CSIRO Symposium, Sustainable metals recovery from e-waste research, Perth
  • 2015, Keynote address, Materials for the 21st Century Conference, Melbourne
  • 2015, Keynote address, WasteMINZ, Rotorua, New Zealand
  • 2015, Keynote address, Parallels Conference, National Gallery of Victoria
  • 2015, Waste & Recycle 2015 Conference Speaker, Perth
  • 2015, Women in Science Leadership Symposium Speaker, UNSW Australia
  • 2015, Roundtable panellist, STEM Brisbane talks
  • 2015, Co-Chair International Sustainability Symposium
  • 2015, Science 50:50 Program Leader
  • 2014, Wired for Wonder Speaker
  • 2013, International Women’s Day Speaker, Sydney
  • 2012-current, Member of the Climate Council (formerly Climate Commission),
    participates in community forums, talks to business and community groups
  • 2013-current, Australia Day Council of NSW, Council Member
  • 2011, TEDx Sydney Speaker
  • 2011, Google Science Fair Judge & Panel Member (USA)

Keynote addresses - highlights

  • 2016, Keynote address, AMU Alumni event, Sydney
  • 2015, Keynote, Oaktree, Grand Challenges, UNSW Australia
  • 2015, Keynote, Rex J. Lipman Fellows Lecture, St Peter's College, Adelaide
  • 2015, Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka, Gala Dinner, Sydney
  • 2015, Keynote & Roundtable Member: Unmaking Waste, Adelaide,
  • 2015, Keynote & Panel Member: Waste 2015, Coffs Harbour
  • 2013, Young Women’s Leadership Seminar, Parliament House, Sydney
  • 2013, Engineers Australia 2013 Regional Convention, Port Macquarie
  • 2013, AIST Howe Memorial Lecture, The Power of Steelmaking – Harnessing High Temperature Reactions to Transform Waste into Raw Material Resources, Pittsburgh, USA
  • 2013, Sustainable Business Australia, Brisbane
  • 2013, Shell Sales and Marketing Conference, Melbourne
  • 2013, 5th High Temperature Processing Symposium, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
  • 2013, National Youth Science Forum, Canberra
  • 2012, Australasian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials (ACMSM 22), Sydney
  • 2012, Australian Executive Women's Leadership Symposium
  • 2011, IITians Association of Australia (IITAA) Business Seminar
  • 2011, TEDxSydney Talk – Reviving Waste
  • 2010, Engineering Leadership Conference, Brisbane
  • 2010, Society for Plastics Engineers Conference, Melbourne
  • 2009, ‘Managing Waste in a Changing Climate’ Conference, Launceston, NZ
  • 2008, Australian Steel Convention on ‘Creating Opportunities in Challenging Time’, Sustainability and Steel, Perth
  • 2005, World Scrap Metal Congress, Shanghai, China
  • 2004, International Ferro-Alloys Congress, Cape Town, South Africa

Plenary addresses - highlights

  • 2015, Co-Chair, International Sustainability Symposium, World Resources Forum, Sydney
  • 2015, Office of Environment & Heritage, Sydney
  • 2015, Women in Leadership Forum, Cochlear, Sydney
  • 2015, Tyre Industry Summit, Auckland, NZ
  • 2014, ATSE, Strategy for Converting Scientific Discoveries into Impact, Brisbane
  • 2014, Future of Research - Green Manufacturing, Sydney
  • 2014, Recycling in a Global Economy, Sydney
  • 2014, Green Materials & Recycling End-of-Life Polymers in Steelmaking, Royal Society, Southern Highlands, NSW
  • 2014, ‘Can You Walk the Walk?’, UNSW Australia, Kensington
  • 2014, Meat and Livestock Australia, Sydney
  • 2014, PechaKucha Night, Sydney
  • 2014, Fellows Luncheon, Sydney
  • 2014, Iluka Conference, Perth
  • 2014, ANU Director’s Colloquium, Research School of Physics and Engineering, ANU, Canberra
  • 2014, Trinity Grammar Guest of Honour & Speaker, Sydney
  • 2013, Shell Innovation Open House, Canberra
  • 2013, Australian Food & Grocery Council Sustainability Forum, Sydney
  • 2013, EU Trans-disciplinary Science & Technology Strategic Event, Netherlands, (presented by Graham Morton)
  • 2013, Regional PBD Conference, Sydney
  • 2013, Global Energy Forum, Sydney
  • 2013, SIMTech, Singapore
  • 2013, Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability Conference, Sydney
  • 2013, Community Migrant Resource Centre, Parramatta
  • 2013, CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Melbourne
  • 2013, Engineers Australia Breakfast, Sydney
  • 2013, Wired for Wonder 'Where Is Science Taking Us?', Sydney
  • 2013, Climate Commission Mornington Forum, Melbourne
  • 2013, ‘Girls Talk: Promoting Science to High School’, Newcastle
  • 2013, ‘Slap Tomorrow’: A Wake-Up Call Environmental Forum, Shepparton, VIC
  • 2012, UNEP conference - Global Partnership on Waste Management (GPWM), Osaka, Japan
  • 2012, Good practice in Collaboration with Asia, AIEC
  • 2012, CSIRO Intelligent Processing Symposium
  • 2012, Australia-China Forum for Advanced High Strength Steels, Deakin University, Geelong
  • 2011, ASTE China Australia Symposium, Recycling Hard Waste & Liquids
  • 2011, Building Partnerships with Industry: Science and Engineering
  • 2011, Big Night of Science
  • 2011, Carbon Pricing Tax Forum, with Hon Member Peter Garrett
  • 2011, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, on ‘Commercialising technologies from a university’s perspective’, Melbourne
  • 2010, Early Career Research, UNSW Australia, Kensington
  • 2010, Modern Electric Furnace Steelmaking: A Practical Training Seminar, AIST
  • 2010, CSIRO Advanced Materials Conference
  • 2010, Learning to Adapt: The Climate of the Future
  • 2010, Engineering Leadership Conference
  • 2010, IBM Software Group
  • 2010, National Youth Science Forum
  • 2007, International Symposium on Sustainable Materials, Malaysia
  • 2006, The Harricks Address, the Institution of Engineers Australia, Sydney
  • 2006, ‘Recycling materials', the Visionary Address, to the Latin American Iron and Steel Institute, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 2005, Iron/steelmaking, Instituto Argentino De Siderurgia, San Nicolas, Argentina
  • 2005, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London
  • 2004, International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking, Luleå, Sweden


  • 2017 Inaugural winner of the PLuS Alliance Prize for Research Innovation
  • 2017 Jubilee Chair and Professorship, Indian Academy of Science
  • 2016 Individual Awards, Professional Engineer of the Year, Sydney, Engineers Australia
  • 2016 Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers list, Engineers Australia
  • 2015 Australia’s Most Influential Engineers list, Engineers Australia
  • 2015, Engineers Australia, Honorary Fellowship
  • 2015, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • 2015, Winner, Innovation Category, Australian Financial Review & Westpac Group, 100 Women of Influence Award
  • 2015, Australia's Top 100 Most Influential Engineers, Engineers Australia
  • 2014, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship & Georgina Sweet Award
  • 2014, Sydney Engineering Excellence Awards, President's Award, SMaRT Centre and joint entrants OneSteel and Brickworks Building Products
  • 2014, Sydney Engineers Excellence Award, Green Materials: Novel processes to transform automotive glass and plastic waste into value-added materials’
  • 2013, The Howe Memorial Lecture Award, AIST
  • 2013, InStyle Audi Women of the Year Award, Environment Category
  • 2012, Banksia Environmental Foundation, GE Eco Innovation Award
  • 2012, The Australian Innovation Challenge, Overall Winner & Hi-Tech Design Category 
  • 2012, CRC Australian Collaborative Innovation Award
  • 2012, UNSW Innovation Awards, Innovation Excellence winner
  • 2011, Nokia Business Innovation Award, Telstra Business Women’s Awards
  • 2011, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Science’, Government of India
  • 2009 Joseph Kapitan Award for the best cokemaking paper (‘Effect of coke minerals and carbon structure on coke behaviour in the Ruukki blast furnace’
  • 2009, Joint Winners – OneSteel & UNSW 2009 Australian Steel Institute Sustainability Award.
  • 2009 NSi Inventor of the Year in the Science/Engineering Category. Click to see video.
  • 2009, ARC Future Fellowship
  • 2008 New South Wales Scientist of the Year Award, category Engineering Science.
  • 2007-current, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the premier national institution for the advancement of engineering and technology, for ‘achievements as an exceptional, innovative engineer with an established record of successful conversions of research to high-value products’. Link:
  • 2006 Environmental Technology Award, (‘Waste plastics – a resource for EAF steelmaking’), AIST.
  • 2006 Charles Briggs Award, for the best paper in electric steelmaking (‘Influence of carbonaceous materials on slag foaming behaviour during EAF steelmaking’), AIST.
  • 2005 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, for innovations in recycling waste plastics in steelmaking, Australian Museum.
  • 2005-current, Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia
  • 2004 Fresh Innovators Award, for innovations in recycling waste plastics in steelmaking, supported by the National Innovation Awareness Strategy, an Australian Government initiative.
  • 2003 Josef Kapitan Award, for the best ironmaking paper (‘Novel equations to establish influence of char structure on reactivity during PCI in a blast furnace’), ISS.
  • 2003 Frank McKune Award, for the best paper on steelmaking practice, author under 40 years of age (‘Interfacial phenomena during interactions of graphite-alumina refractories with liquid steel’), ISS.
  • 2002 Frank McKune Award for the best paper on steelmaking practice, author under 40 yrs) – ISS (‘Kinetic study of in-situ SiO2 reduction in carbon-bearing refractories’).
  • 2000 John Chipman Award for excellence and originality in a publication on the production and processing of iron and steel. Best paper selected from the previous two years of papers in American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) refereed journals and conference proceedings.
  • 1990-2000, Young Leader of the Iron and Steel Society Foundation.
  • 1998, Engineering Excellence Award (Category – Engineering R&D Training and Processes) from the Institution of Engineers Australia – Sydney Division, for new environmentally compatible iron/steel making technologies.


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+61 2 9385 6432

Research Activities


TEDxSydney - Veena Sahajwalla - Reviving Waste
Smart Recycling
Veena Sahajwalla - The E-Waste Alchemist
From Shopping Bags to Steel