CERAMGLASS - Environmentally Friendly Processing of Ceramics and Glass

LIFE11 ENV/ES/000560

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Xermán Francisco de la Fuente Leis
Tel: 34976762527
Fax: 34976761957
Email: xerman@unizar.es

Project description:


A ceramic glaze contains a mixture of 'frits' and other minerals. A frit is a vitreous compound formed by an oxide mixture - between 10 and 20 components - which is obtained by melting said mixture of minerals and components, followed by subsequent cooling in water. The frit composition in oxides, as well as the rest of the components that make up the glaze, are chosen as a function of the aesthetic and surface finish desired. Production of ceramics via conventional methods generally implies three types of heat treatments: 1.Single-fire heat treatment involves the application of a glaze over a green (non-fired) ceramic support and simultaneous heating of support and glaze. To obtain full density within many ceramic supports, temperatures of 1 200-1 400 ºC are required. 2.Two-step or double-fire processes are virtually obsolete, but involve the firing of the ceramic substrate without any coating to yield a partially sintered, porous support. This is then coated with a glaze and sintered to full density. 3.Third-fire processes, which encompass most commercial applications nowadays, apply additional decorative coatings to fully sintered, glazed ceramics, which are subsequently treated at relatively lower temperatures usually ranging from 600-800 ºC.

Third-fire processing is necessary in many cases to deliver high-value-added products that exhibit attractive aesthetic effects such as iridescence, lustre and metallic-like appearance. The decoration of glass also employs similar temperatures to those needed for third-fire ceramic products, because higher temperatures may result in deformation or melting of the glass support.

These thermal processes generate high energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the solvents that are used cause additional greenhouse gas emissions and also many accidents in the working environment. Fumes are produced during the various heating phases of the ceramic objects depending on the temperature used and the type of colour chosen on the surface of the object.


The general objective of the 'CERAMGLASS' project is to reduce the environment impact of thermal treatment of ceramics. It aims to demonstrate the successful application of an innovative laser-furnace technology that has already been developed by the beneficiary and which has shown excellent results on planar ceramics and glass at laboratory-scale. The project plans to construct a pilot plant based on the innovative combination of a continuous furnace and a scanning laser. Using the laser-assisted process it aims to lower the firing temperature for the production of ceramic tiles. Through operation and experimentation, the beneficiary hopes to identify the optimum thermal treatment conditions for using the laser-furnace. It hopes to demonstrate considerably reduced energy consumption and industrial scaleability.

The project aims to show that it is feasible with the new technology to produce robust ceramic tile formats only 4 mm thick. This would represent a 50% reduction in tile thickness, with consequent reduction in consumption of raw source materials. The project will adapt decoration compositions with more environmentally friendly materials for use with the laser processing. Specifically it will adapt decorations applied with screen printing to third-fire products with lustre and metallic effects and decoration inks for planar glass. The replacement of toxic starting materials will allow a minimisation of CO2 and other gas emissions, and toxic residues. The adapted processes should also reduce the energy consumption of the process.

Expected results

  • Successful demonstration of an innovative laser-furnace technology for thermal treatment of ceramics at pilot-scale;
  • The ability to achieve optimised final properties of ceramic products with reduced treatment temperatures;
  • Minimised energy consumption from more efficient processes – an estimated reduction of 0.3kWh/m2 for each 10 ºC temperature reduction will be achieved;
  • Demonstration of the potential for producing thinner ceramic tiles, thus reducing demand for source materials and related environmental costs;
  • Minimised CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions – an estimated reduction of 0.072 kg CO2/m2 for each 10 ºC temperature reduction will be achieved;
  • A reduction in the use of solvents in decorative paints and glazes; and
  • A reduction in the number of work-related accidents and improved health conditions as a result of the elimination of solvents and fumes.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Non-metallic minerals


energy saving‚  emission reduction‚  industrial process‚  ceramics industry

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Type of organisation Research institution
Description The project will be developed by the Material Sciences Institute of Aragon (ICMA), a joint venture of the Spanish National Scientific Research Council (CSIC) - the largest multidisciplinary research organisation in Spain - and the University of Zaragoza.
Partners Torrecid S.A., Spain


Project reference LIFE11 ENV/ES/000560
Duration 01-JUN-2012 to 30-JUN -2015
Total budget 2,897,551.00 €
EU contribution 1,448,196.00 €
Project location Aragón(España) Comunidad Valenciana(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version