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DRYLAP Report Summary

Project ID: 728725

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DRYLAP (DRY LAPping machine for water saving finishing processes in ceramic sector)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Sustainable water management is recognized as a priority for several industry sectors and associations in Europe, manufacturing and industry sector using over 22% of overall resources, ranking second after household use. The European ceramic industry, with an overall production of 1,3 billion of sqm consumes each year over 30.000 million of cube meter of water . Several industry sectors with high water consumption have improved their water management by employing on-site treatment and re-use of water, and improving chemical re-use. The result has been higher production yields and minimised waste. In ceramic sector water is used in many ways including as a raw material, heat exchange vehicle and cleaning agent. Often the water supply includes recycled water, rainwater harvesting schemes and recycled water from on-site lagoons and boreholes. Water is recycled in many ceramic plants, often using ceramic filters: 15% of water are wasted in “end-of-line” processes (finishing, polishing, lapping): of this, only 5% can be reused (0,75% of the total volume). Improving efficiency in this phase of ceramic industrial processes, will lead to important water savings, addressing sustainability of all stages of building sector.
DRYLAP process is addressing a specific stage of the whole production cycle. Actually, finishing phases are devoted to give ceramic tiles aesthetic and functional properties strongly required by the market. DRYLAP will ensure this product to rely upon fully sustainable production processes.
The objectives of the project are then:
• Obj 1: market validation, aimed at probing market readiness for DRYLAP machine, that will have as main outcome the definition of a marketing and sales plan, enclosing preliminary P&L account, and technology innovation plan;
• Obj 2: DRYLAP innovation project, aimed at showing the potential of the dry processing machines and tools compared to wet process machines and tools. This phase will substantially contribute to the mechanical and engineering aspects encountered by BMR and the chemical aspects that the tool manufacturer must consider. The expected outcome is the set-up of pilot plants at industrial scale;
• Obj 3: customers validation, that will have the purpose to test and validate the DRYLAP machine at pre-industrial scale, involving final customers (i.e. ceramic tiles producers) that will validate the DRYLAP process on real industrial scenarios. The expected outcome is the validation of the quality of final products (i.e. ceramic tiles).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The feasibility study had the purpose to support the overall market launch of DRYLAP project, by involving potential customers and by testing the innovative process at lab level.
More in details, the activities carried out where:
1. Market validation
- Market dimension assessment
- Identification of Addressable market
- Definition of Target market
- Analysis of competitors
2. Market readiness
- Interview with potential customers
- Participation to international fairs
- Identification of industrial company for pilot phase
- Collection of EOIs on DRYLAP technology
- Definition of preliminary P&L account
3. Technical feasibility
- Test on tiles provided by ceramic tiles producers
- Identification of critical parameters
- Definition of improvement plan
- Identification of technological and scientific partners

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Finishing Process. In ceramic tile production process, the finishing and surface treatment stage gives considerable added value to the materials, especially from the aesthetic point of view, by providing the tile with special aesthetic characteristics that are highly valued commercially. The aesthetic trends of the market require more and more products to have high intrinsic technical characteristics (reduced absorption, high surface hardness, abrasion resistance) that are typical of porcelain stoneware. This is combined with the requirement for a high aesthetic value of the surface in order to achieve effects that are increasingly closer to those of natural products (wood, marble, granite, quarry stone etc.). Therefore, along with technological development - and thanks to, or because of it - there has been a huge development in the aesthetic characteristics of the products that has led to mechanical treatment (polishing and lapping) of fired tiles becoming more or less adopted everywhere. Polishing is one of the key finishing processes used to improve the aesthetics of porcelain stoneware products. Its use makes it possible to highlight tone-on-tone and make the tile surface perfectly flat. To obtain this result usually lapping process is applied: a thickness of material between 0.3 and 0.5 mm, sometimes more, is removed, depending on the type of tile. Lapping literally means "Precision finishing performed by means of a very fine abrasive mounted on a lapping machine": during this type of machining, only a minimum amount of the tile surface is removed and a gentle finishing process is performed, because the materials processed are usually partially enamelled or glazed.
Unfortunately, there is a negative side to machining surfaces after firing: it involves using a considerable amount of water, the equivalent to more than 125 litres per m2 processed, and generates and equally large amount of sludge and waste, which in addition to material removed, also contains process water.
By using the DRYLAP innovative process, BMR intends to create a globally innovative product that is not currently available on the market. DRYLAP will push the technology towards the correct use of environmental resources and to optimize and reduce direct pollution and pollution produced by the manufacturing of ceramic building materials. This will be achieved through the implementation of flexible technological cycles that are particularly suitable for any type of ceramic material, and therefore for every type of ceramic mix. This will help to reduce, if not completely eliminate, the problems related to the use of water and to reduce energy consumption used in the manufacture of ceramic products."

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