Meet the Boston Metal Team: Wenwu Shi
The mission to tackle 10% of the world’s carbon emissions takes a passionate, multi-disciplinary team. We sat down with one of our dedicated trailblazers – senior refractory engineer, Wenwu Shi – so you can get to know him better and learn what excites him most about working at Boston Metal.
Wenwu Shi joined Boston Metal after working for an industrial materials manufacturing company for eight years. At Boston Metal, Wenwu is a refractories specialist and helps build our molten oxide electrolysis cells. Working with temperatures as high as 1,750 degrees Celsius, his primary responsibility is to design cells that are safe, thermally balanced, and not prone to overheating.
Like many engineers, Wenwu realized he enjoyed building things early on. A native of China, Wenwu moved to the U.S. to earn his Master of Science degree and PhD in metallurgical engineering at the University of Alabama. While there, he developed a passion for football and the sense of community that comes along with it. Although he lives in the Boston area now, Wenwu remains a loyal Steelers fan from the eight years he spent in Pittsburgh. Outside of watching football, Wenwu likes to spend time outdoors running, biking, hiking, and enjoying nature.
An incredible asset to our engineering team, Wenwu is playing a vital role in the commercialization of our groundbreaking steel decarbonization technology.
What first made you interested in Boston Metal?
I was working in the steel industry for a long time and wanted a fresh experience and perspective. People have been using the same steelmaking process for years. I thought Boston Metal was doing something revolutionary. If successful, we can reshape an entire industry. That was very appealing to me.
What do you like most about your current role and the impact you have?
Traditional steelmaking is very energy intensive and produces about 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. I connected with Boston Metal’s environmentally friendly mission. It’s one that I hadn’t encountered in my previous work in the metals industry. I feel like I have a greater purpose working at Boston Metal.
What’s the most unique part about working at Boston Metal?
It is very rewarding and interesting to work in the new field of green steel. Earlier in my career, I was used to looking at how others approached various solutions. We are coming up with our own solution in ways that have never been tried before, and that offers a level of creativity and excitement that I really enjoy.
What’s the most challenging part about your work at Boston Metal?
Even though it’s incredibly rewarding, working on an unprecedented technology can be difficult. There are a lot of new challenges and ideas to explore, and we have to prove or disprove all of them, which is very time consuming. We make many decisions that we assume are the right ones, but because of the nature of the work, it’s difficult to know for certain until later on in the process. We’re also dealing with a high temperature system, and that requires a lot of focus and attention.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned in your career so far?
I learned that it can be very helpful to seek perspectives from people in different industries. Other industries face separate challenges, but those issues can translate to your own work. Being open minded and taking an interdisciplinary approach helps build problem solving skills. For example, we can visualize the flow patterns of molten metal and electrolyte in a low temperature system, such as in a fish tank.
Wenwu finished strong at the half-day Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, an 18-mile, sunrise to sunset endurance hike near Pittsburgh