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DRYMIX Report Summary

Project ID: 736499

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DRYMIX (Feasibility Study of energy efficient, sustainable, innovative Ceramic powders Dry-Mix method andenabling additives)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The DRYMIX project proposes to establish a technological platform, constituted by innovative silicates and acrylic additive and improved granulation process, permitting to close the gap between the dry granulation and the spray drying, in terms of absolute performances of the process itself and of the end ceramic products.
To do so, chemistry of the additives, and the mixing methods and equipment need to be applied in order to permit the smooth process of mixing and the achievement of a semi-finished product having the same flowing characteristics of the atomized. Silicates in water dispersion, in combination with minor amount of polymer additives (acrylates and short-long chain mixed organics, with tailored functional termination to tune the surface tension) are the chemical basis of choice. The point of strength of the project is that only the amount of water needed to perform the pressing or forming steps is added, therefore avoiding any potential need for water removal through energetic expensive evaporation.

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 activities performed belong to the three main fields of operations, and account for:
• the technological development of the formulation and the process, aiming to demonstrate the technical feasibility and to tune the formulation: flowing performances analogous to the atomized products are demonstrated, and the economic feature is approached so as to reduce the amount of additives (in particular the organic ones) to the limits of economic sustainability, principal matter of choice in the sector. Environmental sustainability has been checked as well through the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, showing an 80% almost reduction of the environmental impacts, in terms of kg of CO2 emissions and MJ of primary energy required;
• Market assessment has been deployed, identifying the priorities for the growth, and a clear benefit associated to the implementation of the project results, in particular with reference to the end market expectations of increasing sustainability and reduction of emissions and costs for the processing of ceramics. The originality of the approach, jointly with the potential to be implemented at either side of the current tiles processors, makes the innovation a real breakthrough, and a potential best seller, giving advantages to every step in the value chain. According to the IPR aspects, DAXEL found no overlapping background, at the same time they refer to a strong risk of aggression and reverse engineering on the composition from competitors. The solution identified, to overcome risks and guarantee to DAXEL the best exploitation opportunities is to secure a brand and to establish a disciplinary, to activate an accession and accordingly drive the future developments in accordance to a well-defined process procedure and equipment. Specific set-up of the granulation equipment could be additional IPR worth be secured;
• Two types of complementary Business Models have been developed, relevant for different levels of time proximity. The former is related to the direct access to a market willing to increase the quality and price target of own product, at minor plants investments. Latter is more complex and foresees the joint material production and sales with a consultancy activity, for companies already active in a high end market willing to reduce the costs and complexity of the plants: it is upon this latest process that the business plan has been drafted, involving therefore the longer term advantages, and comprising the model “as usual” of production and sales of ceramic additives.

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)

DAXEL expects to gain a strong point of access into the market, thanks to the results of the DRYMIX project, leading to a substantial differentiation of own product, already at the short-medium term. The longer term approach and plans of commercialization can be reached through a strong effort in the development of advanced process, the adaptation of the components and the identification of a set of prime movers who can lead the market of ceramic tiles towards a high quality without the costs and energy burdens of the atomization. Such aspect, expecting to create a real revolution in the field of ceramics, is the core of the long term vision of DAXEL, and can only be achieved through a dedicated strong effort in close cooperation with companies in the field of ceramic process, testing and formulation labs as well as process developers thanks to which to face the new challenges and convincing the market of the real (technical and economical) benefits achievable.

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