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Horizon Ceramics Features in Carbon Trust Grant Awards

Horizon Ceramics Ltd (Penrith, Cumbria, England) is one of the companies to whom The Carbon Trust has awarded more than £1 million of funding as it assists seven pioneering technologies at the cutting-edge of the UK’s carbon reduction innovation work. The financial support will speed the technologies ’ development through to commercial reality and accelerate the UK’s move to a low carbon economy.

Horizon Ceramics has been awarded £114,183 towards its energy efficient kilns project. Although over the last 20 years attempts have been made to develop kilns with low thermal mass, the ceramic fibre used tends to degrade, leading to hazardous airborne dust and a loss of structural integrity. This project is developing a manufacturing process for an interlocking system of ceramic modules with a highly insulating infill that will create a much more energy efficient kiln.

The modules will be manufactured with such accuracy that they will fit together and, by varying the shape slightly, will allow the kiln to be constructed entirely from the modules themselves. The modules will be extremely energy efficient. The key requirement for any interlocking system of ceramic modules is accuracy. This has always presented problems to the ceramic component manufacturing industry.

Horizon Ceramics has developed and helped commercialise a manufacturing process that gives shape and distortion-free ceramics. This technology is known as ‘Freeze Casting’ and was licensed to Morgan Crucible plc in 2001. By developing these principles further, it will be possible to build freeze-cast modules that interlock and allow construction of the entire kiln. Additionally, it is proposed to develop a low thermal mass infill that is not based on ceramic fibre. Instead, it is a freeze-cast ceramic foam that can be introduced at the casting stage so the complete module can be frozen and de-moulded in one operation.

This will lead to considerable energy savings and carbon reductions. Freeze casting is itself also an energy efficient process that produces no damaging emissions to the atmosphere because no organic materials are involved in the process.

Over the past four years The Carbon Trust has invested more than £17 million in projects that have demonstrated their potential to develop into viable commercial technologies that could reduce UK carbon emissions.

Garry Staunton, Head of Low Carbon Research at The Carbon Trust, said: “The diverse nature of these technologies clearly demonstrates the exciting low carbon innovation work taking place in the UK today. These technologies have the potential to make significant carbon savings and to be commercially very successful.

“The Carbon Trust’s Applied Research scheme aims to speed promising low carbon technologies towards commercial reality and large scale deployment. These technologies will play a vital part in moving the UK towards a low carbon economy. The application process is rigorous so successful projects are to be congratulated on securing support from the Carbon Trust.”

The Applied Research scheme requires that each project pass a thorough application process and must secure additional funding from alternative sources. A new call for proposals is now open until 17 August 2007 at 5pm. Applications can be made online.

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