Material and Environmental Sustainability in Ceramic Processing

EPA Grant Number: R830420C005
Subproject: this is subproject number 005 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R830420
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Environmental and Energy Research (CEER)
Center Director: Earl, David A.
Title: Material and Environmental Sustainability in Ceramic Processing
Investigators: Schwerzler, Gretchen I. , Earl, David A. , Carty, William
Institution: Alfred University
EPA Project Officer:
Project Period: September 1, 2003 through August 31, 2005
RFA: Targeted Research Center (2004) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research , Hazardous Waste/Remediation


Whitewares manufacturing currently produces more than 100 million pieces of dinnerware and other products each year. Because of inefficient use of water and raw materials, large amounts of waste are generated. The waste generated solely by Buffalo China in the glazing process totals over 500,000 pounds of hazardous and non-hazardous solids and over 10 million cubic feet of water per year. Reduction of the amount of hazardous waste through use of hydrocyclone separation of particles in combination with the development of glazes using recycled materials will decrease the use of capital, energy, and natural resources.

Currently no recycling of raw materials is practiced in the whitewares industry. Glaze waste is usually a combination of multiple production colored glazes often containing lead, cadmium, and chromium pigments that in combination produces a dark, non-marketable color and must be stored, treated, and disposed of as hazardous waste. Separating the waste by particle size isolates different pigments that could then be reintroduced into the production colors as a percentage of the glaze. Prior work by Ross Newcomb at Alfred University showed that color difference between the waste and production glazes was the main problem with large additions of waste to production. Finer separation of the waste particles as well as adjustments to current production glazes could eliminate these problems.

Initial trials at Alfred University analyzed the waste samples and determined the relationship between particle size, density, and sedimentation velocity of the particles using Stokes’ Law. Trials showed that separated waste containing frit and colorants could be reused in production glazes as batch additions. Using gravity sedimentation for large particles and repeated cycling through a small hydrocyclone (2.54 cm) for small particles, three components were separated by particle size: (1) frit, clays, and zircon opacifier (< 5 µm); (2) frit and light colorants (5-20 µm); and (3) frit and Cd-Se red and V yellow colorants (> 20 µm). The process demonstrated the reuse of waste materials in production glaze but was inefficient and not suited to industry. A CEER seed project enabled collaboration with Krebs Engineers in Tucson, Arizona, who developed an industrial system for separation based on the known separation points for the waste, solids densities, the feed slurry volume, weight percent solids, pH, and temperature. The objective of this project is to determine the operating parameters of the separation system, the efficiency of material recovery, and the feasibility of implementing this separation technology into an industrial process.

Supplemental Keywords:

hydrocyclone, hazardous waste, recycling, sedimentation velocity, materials, selective agglomeration, surface chemistry, particle size distribution, classification, separation, Stoke’s law,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemistry and Materials Science, Chemicals Management, cleaner production, waste reduction, clean technologies, green design, alternative materials, energy efficiency, recycled glaze materials, ceramic processing

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R830420    Center for Environmental and Energy Research (CEER)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R828737C001 Environmental Impact of Fuel Cell Power Generation Systems
    R828737C002 Regional Economic and Material Flows
    R828737C003 Visualizing Growth and Sustainability of Water Resources
    R828737C004 Vibratory Residual Stress Relief and Modifications in Metals to Conserve Resources and Prevent Pollution
    R828737C005 Detecting and Quantifying the Evolution of Hazardous Air Pollutants Produced During High Temperature Manufacturing: A Focus on Batching of Nitrate Containing Glasses
    R828737C006 Sulfate and Nitrate Dynamics in the Canacadea Watershed
    R828737C007 Variations in Subsurface Denitrifying and Sulfate-Reducing Microbial Populations as a Result of Acid Precipitation
    R828737C008 Recycling Glass-Reinforced Thermoset Polymer Composite Materials
    R828737C009 Correlating Clay Mineralogy with Performance: Reducing Manufacturing Waste Through Improved Understanding
    R830420C001 Accelerated Hydrogen Diffusion Through Glass Microspheres: An Enabling Technology for a Hydrogen Economy
    R830420C002 Utilization of Paper Mill Waste in Ceramic Products
    R830420C003 Development of Passive Humidity-Control Materials
    R830420C004 Microarray System for Contaminated Water Analysis
    R830420C005 Material and Environmental Sustainability in Ceramic Processing
    R830420C006 Interaction of Sealing Glasses with Metallic Interconnects in Solid Oxide and Polymer Fuel Cells
    R830420C007 Preparation of Ceramic Glaze Waste for Recycling using Froth Flotation
    R830420C008 Elimination of Lead from Ceramic Glazes by Refractive Index Tailoring
    R830420C010 Nanostructured C6B: A Novel Boron Rich Carbon for H2 Storage