Processing refractory materials to develop sustainable sources of raw materials for the future

Prisms of refractory materials
© Fraunhofer IBP

Today, refractory materials have many different uses and are considered key products in the heavy goods industry. Ceramic materials (including refractory ceramics) are products which are used at high temperatures of over 1500 °C, generally for lining thermal equipment (e.g. blast furnaces, converters) and for transport systems in the iron and steel, aluminum, cement and ceramics industries. Without these refractory materials, the thermal processes fundamental to the production of steel, iron, aluminum, cement and glass would not exist.

The materials achieve the necessary refractoriness and other important properties (volume stability, resistance to high fluctuations in temperature, chemical resistance as well as mechanical or temperature-dependent strength) from their non-metallic, inorganic constituents such as bauxite, high-grade corundum, tabular alumina, zirconium silicate, silicon carbide, spinels or magnesia, which are capable of withstanding high temperatures. These raw materials or semi-finished products, in turn, are obtained from increasingly-scarce natural raw materials in complex, energy-intensive processes.

Sustainable contribution towards establishing a closed material cycle

To this end, our researchers are working hard to find ways to recover these valuable raw materials as so-called regenerates - so that they can be used in new refractory materials such as refractory concrete or refractory bricks. In this way, we are making a sustainable contribution towards establishing an important material cycle for industry, because the materials have so far largely been deposited in landfills.

Our experts are developing innovative methods and processes for recovering high-quality regenerates from industrial waste such as broken furnace linings, in order to produce refractory materials. We use a range of different processing methods, such as electrodynamic fragmentation (EDF), as well as diverse sorting techniques. Within the scope of various projects, we have succeeded in demonstrating that valuable raw materials can be recycled in high quality as regenerates. With our experience and expertise, we will gladly help you find the right processing method for your products or applications. Get in touch with us!