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POSCO-made K-STEEL Part 1, POSCO’s antiviral color steel sheets for buildings and home appliances

Providing satisfaction to customers with high-quality products and eco-friendly steel solutions and striving to reduce CO2 emissions! Experts introduce POSCO’s new steel sheet products.

Du-hwan Jo, Senior principal researcher

(Automotive Steel Surface Research Group, POSCO Technical Research Laboratories)

POSCO’s idea to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 in December 2019 led to a social and economic crisis. As the world went through chaos and difficulties, interest in health and hygiene increased. POSCO contemplated whether it could solve the social chaos caused by the harmful virus with its technology and proposed adding an inactivation function against viruses to steel sheets, which are essential materials for daily life.

Collaboration between steel and biotechnology realizing the idea of antiviral steel sheets

COVID-19 is a crown-shaped virus and one of the respiratory viruses, including the common cold, flu, and MERS. It is difficult to kill viruses due to their small size, about 1/100 to 1/10000 that of germs or bacteria, as well as rapid mutation and transmission rates.

Therefore, antiviral development is difficult in the early stages because of no globally recognized virus evaluation methods and agencies and high evaluation costs. To solve this problem, POSCO collaborated on development with bio-research institutes in Korea.

Antiviral steel sheets that kill viruses with eco-friendly substances

POSCO promoted the development of products that can be applied first to steel products for household appliances and building materials to prevent viral infections in living environments. The company succeeded in developing a color steel sheet with excellent antiviral properties by creating color coating film (film formed by applying paint) on a PosMAC (Zn-1.4%Al-1.5%Mg) plated steel sheet with excellent corrosion resistance developed with POSCO’s original technology and using eco-friendly inorganic composite materials.

The principle is that virus droplets are adsorbed on metal ions eluted from POSCO’s antiviral steel sheet coating, and metal ions and moisture react to produce active oxygen, which destroys the virus membrane, causing the virus to die. Since the antiviral material developed for the steel sheet was created by recycling biomaterials, it is eco-friendly and inexpensive and has excellent antiviral performance because it is easy to elute metal ions.

Precise evaluation to verify performance and prove excellence!

A domestic research institute evaluated the antiviral properties of the developed product using international standards evaluation methods (ISO 21702 and 22196). The results verified 99.9% effectiveness against COVID-19, the Feline virus, and Influenza A. Furthermore, excellent effects on bacteria (four species) and fungi (five species) were also shown, with a death rate of 99.999% and a growth rate of 0%. In particular, the durability evaluation of antiviral performance during the product’s life cycle showed excellent results of 98% or more.

Therefore, POSCO’s antiviral steel sheet proved its excellence by verifying its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Now that attention is focused on health and hygiene, it will likely gain popularity as a panel for building materials and household appliances.

POSCO’s eco-friendly, low-cost antiviral steel sheets, leading steelmakers worldwide

In the environment of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, steel makers worldwide made great efforts to develop antiviral steel sheets but had difficulty mass producing them. Japanese steel companies have developed zinc-nickel electroplating products for use in home appliances using photocatalysts activated by light, but there is a problem that performance is poor indoors without sunlight. It is reported that another domestic color-coated steel sheet maker has developed an antiviral steel sheet using medical materials, but the product has not yet been mass-produced due to its impracticality in price and quality. POSCO has succeeded in making antiviral color-coated steel sheets that can be applied to building materials and home appliances by developing eco-friendly and low-cost antiviral materials.