A Black Country company is investing more than £3.3 million to become the first firm in the UK to introduce a revolutionary steel processing system which has massive benefits for the environment.

Servosteel, which employs 100 people at its processing plant in Pensnett Road, Dudley, currently handles around 300,000 tonnes of steel coil every year.

One of the existing processes uses hydrochloric acid to clean the surface of the steel.

But with the support of a £500,000 Selective Finance for Investment in England (SFIE) grant from Advantage West Midlands, Servosteel is installing new Smooth-Clean-Steel (SCS) technology developed by American firm, the Material Works.

The machine, which cleans coil steel, will be one of only two in the world when it enters service in October.

Jim Spencer, managing director of Servosteel, said: "To date, strip steel has been cleaned by pickling it - passing it through hydrochloric acid baths before being dried off and oiled to prevent rust developing.

"This new machine flattens the material and cleans the surface with a combination of nylon brushes and high-pressure water jets.

"It leaves a very fine layer of existing Wustite - a sheen - on the surface of the strip helping to protect the surface for many months against any deterioration.

"It's a physical effort, rather than a chemical effort, so it uses no acid for cleaning. All the scale and grime is cleared away with jets of water.

"All the water used and the scale that has been removed from the surface pass into a state-of-the-art filtration system and is recycled."

Mr Spencer said the new process had great benefits for the environment and end users especially, as well as improving production and adding to the shelf life of the products.

He said: "This process means there is no oil used in the cleaning process, which means it does not have to be removed when the steel is welded or laser cut.

"It also means it is more efficient because a lot of the power in welding is used to get through the oil."

Mr Spencer said the system was a major capital investment by the company which will safeguard around 100 jobs and create another 18.

"For the first two or three years we will have an opportunity and advantage over our competitors.

"The SFIE grant from Advantage West Midlands was an important part of the finance package to enable the project to go ahead."

Patrick Palmer, head of Access to Finance at AWM, said: "This is an exciting and innovative project which will see a world-class surface finishing facility operating at the heart of the West Midlands.

"The agency has a key role to provide appropriate finance to help established businesses realise opportunities for growth. The Servosteel development is a major capital investment for the company."