Europe's second-largest steel maker Tata Steel Europe and the UK ministry of defence (MoD) have entered into a strategic licensing pact to produce super steels that could be used in future front-line armoured vehicles.
The steel has both military and civilian applications.
Tata Steel's Port Talbot steelworks in the UK will manufacture Super Bainite - a new steel armour that has outstanding ballistics properties and has performed better than 'normal' steel armour.
Super Bainite was invented by professor Peter Brown of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTI); professor Harry Bhadeshia, the Tata Steel professor of metallurgy at Cambridge University; and Dr Carlos Garcia-Mateo from the National Centre for Metallurgical Research in Madrid.
DSTI owns the patents for the chemical composition and processing of Super Bainite, while a license agreement between its commercial licensing arm Ploughshare Innovations and Tata Steel allows the steel maker to manufacture it in the UK and Europe for global exports.
To make 'normal' steel, the metal is covered with water to get it to room temperature quickly before structural weaknesses can set in, but with Super Bainite, a whole variety of cooling methods, using air or even molten salt, are used throughout production instead of rapid cooling with water.