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New environmentally friendly rare earth colours for ceramics and glass


Objectives and content Most of the coloured pigments and colours used to decorate ceramic and glass articles contain transition metals and/or heavy metals in order to achieve the colour and temperature stability required. Consumer protection and workplace health and safety issues make the use of these elements undesirable in these applications, i.e. articles in contact with foodstuffs. Manufacturers and users need to find alternatives in order to meet the increasingly more demanding legislation concerning consumer protection, health and safety and environmental issues. There is an urgent need therefore to find alternative pigments and colours, which are less toxic and more environmentally friendly. This proposal addresses these needs directly and will have a profound effect on industry and the consumer. The objective of the work proposed is to research and develop a range of new pigments based on rare earth compounds and using lead and cadmium free fluxes. Many of the rare earth, lanthanide series of elements are significantly less toxic than the transition metals and are now capable of being produced at a comparable cost. A consortium assembled from 5 EU member states has the expertise to carry out the research necessary and also the experience and capability to transfer the technology to industry and ultimately exploit it fully. It is envisaged that this new technology will be easily integrated into current production practices, to the producer of tableware, tiles or sanitaryware products the use of these products will be no different to the current materials but will have the advantage of being less hazardous. The work proposed will take 4 years and cost a total of 2.5 MECU. The initial work will investigate characterise and optimise the pigments and colours produced and those which indicate commercial viability will be scaled up to pilot scale to ensure the technical validity and viability of the work done and to allow industrial and commercial assessments of the materials produced. The proposed programme of work is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time that a systematic and comprehensive investigation of the potential rare earths has been directed specifically at producing high temperature stable pigments and colours for ceramic and glass application.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


1,Auer Von Welsbachstrasse 1
9330 Treibach

Participants (5)

United Kingdom
Penkhull, Queens Road
ST4 7LQ Stoke-on-trent
Denby Pottery Company Ltd.
United Kingdom

DE5 8NX Denby
Precision Studios
United Kingdom
King Street
ST4 3DF Fenton Stoke On Trend
University of Bath
United Kingdom
Claverton Down
BA2 7AY Bath - Avon
Verrerie Cristallerie D' Arques - JG Durand et Cie
Avenue Du General De Gaulle 41
62510 Arques