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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

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USE OF CLAY CONDITIONERS TO


OPTIMIZE PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY
Green efficiency for ceramic applications
BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

CONTENT

INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................................................................................................3

CERAMIC MANUFACTURING PROCESS.....................................................................................................................................4

PREPARATION.................................................................................................................................................................................................5

INCREASED WORKABILITY AND PLASTICITY.................................................................................................................7

MOULDING OF THE CLAY.....................................................................................................................................................................9

EXTENDED LIFE OF MOVING PARTS.....................................................................................................................................9

HIGHER THROUGHPUT AND INCREASED EXTRUSION RATES......................................................................10

DRYING..............................................................................................................................................................................................................12

INCREASED GREEN AND DRIED BODY STRENGTH................................................................................................12

FASTER DRYING CYCLES..............................................................................................................................................................13

FIRING.................................................................................................................................................................................................................14

REDUCE BREAKING AND CHIPPING....................................................................................................................................14

ANTISCUMMING PROPPERTIES..............................................................................................................................................15

CONCLUSION................................................................................................................................................................................................16

CONTACT..........................................................................................................................................................................................................17

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

INTRODUCTION

One of the first building materials were will be for example red bricks contain more
mud bricks, moulding by hand and dried in iron. Throughout history, bricks and later
the sun for days. Later, bricks and roofing tiles have been used in every culture, from
products were made of clay and fired in the Ancient Chinese to the Romans. People
kilns to create a strong, lasting material. The viewed brick as a stronger material than
raw materials that were required to make wood, as it was resilient to fire, rot, and pests.
these products were plentiful, and brick/ Brick has been used to build everything from
tile-making quickly became a trade. Both homes to barriers to tombs. In modern times,
bricks and tiles are commonly made from bricks have been used to create outdoor
a combination of different clays and sand. living spaces like patios and bars, as well as
The mineral content of the clays can help to for decorative uses, including flower pots,
determines what color the finished product mailboxes, and other landscaping.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

CERAMIC
MANUFACTURING PROCESS

In general terms there are 5 steps in the For the main purpose of this paper we will
production of a clay brick or roof tile: concentrate more upon the moulding/
forming and drying of the articles with some
1. Mining/wining of the clay references to clay preparation and firing.
2. Preparation of the clay
3. Moulding/forming of the shape required Below is an example of two types of structural
4. Drying ceramics manufacturing process and how using
5. Firing clay conditioners can optimise the process.

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PREPARATION

Once the clay has been won it has been the


norm to produce a stockpile of these different
clays and leave them open to the elements
of the weather for long periods of time from
a few months up to over a year. This process
is called weathering and allows for a more
homogenized clay, the removal of unwanted
soluble matter and breaking down of
agglomerated particles.

Once ready to use the different clays will a primary crusher to reduce the initial
be fed through box feeders and placed in particle size. From here the clays can be dry
pens for storage allowing for various body processed through pendular mill or hammer
recipes to be made – at this stage a number mill, or wet processed via a wet pan or a
of “additives” can be used such as waste form of disintegrator. The final process then
from paper processing, sawdust, rice husks includes a number of high speed rollers set a
or similar cellulose based products and coal differing apertures to reduce the clay particle
dust. As a rule -although not exclusive- the size to that required which is then ready to be
blended clays would be then fed through used in production.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

Low plasticity, cracked clay

High plasticity clay due to additive addition

This final processed clay can now take one of you working hand to mouth for clay for your
two manufacturing routes – either straight to production. If this becomes the case and
the forming machine or placed in large indoor although you would still like the benefits of
storage silos. The latter option is commonly souring but under a shorter time period then
known as “souring” whereby water is added to the use of clay conditioners/biopolymers
the clay and it is then left for a period of days may be a quick cost effective solution for
to months. During this rest period the water you. They work in the same way as water in
spreads via capillary attraction and the clay that they too spread via capillary attraction
undergoes necessary changes resulting in a lubricating the inner clay particles and
more homogenous body ready to be worked. improve workability. This then in turn allows
the clay to reach its optimum performance
Depending upon your production level much quicker than traditional water
requirements this period of souring may leave souring.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

INCREASED WORKABILITY
AND PLASTICITY

The raw materials you have available may


include a number of low plastic clays, high
shale clays, sands, coarse inert minerals
to name a few which may hamper the
workability of the processed clay body and, to
overcome this, a number of companies have
had to revert to the purchase of expensive
imported plastic clays, incurring extra costs
to production. By using clay conditioners/
biopolymers the quantity required of these
expensive clays can be reduced or even
replaced with lower plastic clays.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

Furthermore, for those factories limited to


being only able to use low quality clays or
high shale bodies etc. conditioners have
been proven to increase workability. These
products provide internal body lubrication of
particles to help increase the clay workability
or plasticity.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

MOULDING OF THE CLAY


EXTENDED LIFE OF MOVING PARTS

Once your clay body is ready to be used in production there are four common production
routes open to you for brick making - extruded, soft mud, water struck and hand thrown – and
for roof tiles there are three common methods – extruded/machine pressed, extruded and
hand pressed. Note that the addition of sands and stains can be applied in any part of the
below named options》》:

1. Extruded clay bricks – these can either be 5. Extruded clay tiles – shape and
solid or perforated and can vary in both size dimensions are dictated by the extrusion die
and moisture content of the clay being used
dependent upon country and application. 6. Extruded and machine pressed clay tiles
They can be sold as engineering (Class A – slugs will vary both in size and moisture
and B, both red or blue), insulating, facing content dependent upon the size, dimensions
or common. Whatever the finished brick the and nature of the press being used
extrusion process is quite universal across the
world of manufacture. 7. Hand pressed tiles – the original pressed
tile made by hand using soft clays with a
2. Soft mud bricks – these can either be variety of finishes, shapes and appearances.
solid or frog and can vary in both size and
moisture content depending on mould size
and application

3. Water struck bricks – these will almost Further benefits of clay conditioners during
always be a solid brick using water to the forming processes as listed above are
lubricate the mould and to strike the brick that, with this internal body lubrication, there
from its mould and give it a unique will be less friction on any moving parts the
surface finish clay comes into contact with, hence extending
the working life of them. This can include
4. Hand thrown bricks – these are the original blades in the single/double shafted extruder
soft mud brick produced by hand and will or mixer, the screen feeder, parts of the
either be solid or frog with a multitude of deairing pug mill, the moulds and finally the
various finishes and appearances. extruder die.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

HIGHER THROUGHPUT AND


INCREASED EXTRUSION RATES

As this is the first major process in the brick of them may be a step to far. However, it has
production, manufacturers need to ensure been shown – for well over 60 years – that
that all parameters are optimized – energy there is one readily available product that
costs, output, water addition and moisture can give improvements in not just one but
content of the clays, clay workability, use all of these parameters. The table below
of lubricants, waste/losses and green gives an overview of how a number of clay
strength to name a few. These parameters conditioners have performed against a
may look daunting at first glance and finding variety of clays found within the brick and tile
suitable products to overcome some or all manufacturing process.

- Parameters
Clay type and Production Extruder Power con- Relative green Moisture Dry strength Extruder
process rate amperage sumption strength content efficiency
Carboniferous +5.8% -15.6% -20.5% +9.0% -0.1% +11.8% +26.0%
shale – extruded
Carboniferous NIL -14.8% -14.3% +16.0% NIL +13.5% +16.7%
shale – extruded
Carboniferous shale NIL NIL NIL +28.3% -1.2% N/A +1.4%
– extruded/pressed
Carboniferous Ref +9.9% -10.2% -17.8% +14.6% -0.6% N/A +22.6%
U/Clay – extruded
Carboniferous Buff +20.5% -5.0% -21.2% +21.2% -0.7% N/A +27.9%
Fireclay – extruded
Devonian Shale – +5.7% -13.7% -18.8% +13.0% -0.3% +33.3% +23.5%
extruded
Keuper Marl – +1.1% -7.8% -8.7% +24.6% -0.9% +20.3% +10.7%
extruded
Brickearth – extruded +1.1% -21.2% -22.4% +26.2% -0.6% +23.8% +29.7%
and repressed
Etruria Marl – +7.0% -15.5% -20.8% +23.9% -0.1% +16.4% +26.4%
extruded
Non-clay refractory +13.7% -6.9% -17.4% +30.0% -0.5% N/A +21.5%
– extruded
Hastings beds – NIL N/A N/A N/A -1.5% +113.3% N/A
soft mud moulded
Weald clay – NIL N/A N/A N/A -0.7% +35.3% N/A
soft mud moulded

Columns 1-4, 6 and 7 show % changes in stated parameters as a direct result of incorporating 0.5% by weight of clay
conditioner into otherwise standard production. Column 5 shows the actual reduction in moisture content.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

This table helps to show that the use of clay


conditioners helps to optimise extrusion
rates. increase throughput whilst reducing
energy consumption, therefore optimising the
whole manufacturing process. Furthermore,
below you can find two graphs that show how
different clay conditioners have performed in
a specific type of clay.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

DRYING
INCREASED GREEN AND
DRIED BODY STRENGTH

Once the required product has been


“made” the next step in the process is the
drying of the clay to enable it to be fired.
Nowadays there are two major routes to
drying be it air drying or mechanical drying
either by hand setting or use of automated
setting machines/robots either with direct
placing onto kiln car bases or in-direct onto
drier cartridges or similar. Either way the
manufacturer is always looking to optimize
drying times to meet production demands
but without incurring extra losses – drying
cracks, warpage, handling breakages,
products at the wrong moisture content.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

Monitoring tools used to track drying process.

FASTER DRYING CYCLES

The addition of clay conditioners has been This in-turn will allow better circulation of
seen to reinforce the inter particle bonding hot gases during the firing process. We now
of the clay skeleton and, as such, can rapidly have specialist monitoring equipment, which
increase the products strength throughout can be used to measure the way the clay
drying cycle. As such, dryer costs and/or products behave during the drying process,
times can be reduced as the heat can be showing weight loss against temperature,
applied faster. If using automatic setting humidity and shrinkage enabling a bigot
machines then these dried tough durable curve to be drawn so optimum drying
products can aid the machines to work more parameters can be set.
accurately giving better set square packs.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

FIRING
REDUCE BREAKING AND CHIPPING

Having dried the products to the required As shown the addition of clay conditioners
moisture content, the final process is to give a higher breaking strength after drying
fire the clay pieces ready to be packed and reducing handling losses and the subsequent
sold. Kiln firings of bricks and tiles may have resultant tough surface layer protects
evolved greatly over the centuries, but some vulnerable areas from damage during
firings today are still based on a theme from transportation, handling and firing.
years gone by. Clamp firings are still used,
along with Bull Trench and Hoffmann kilns, Below is a client’s testimonial on the use of
added to this we now have tunnel kilns clay conditioners/biopolymers within their
and a new wave of kiln firings using VSBK production process showing increases in
technology. production, increased yields and higher
profitability:

Without any additive With a clay conditioner/biopolymer

50 million bricks per year 52 million bricks per year

95% best brick 97% best brick

2% general waste 0.5% general waste

2% cracking 0% cracking

20% perforation 25% perforation

Profit £900,000 Profit £1,050,000

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

ANTISCUMMING PROPPERTIES

Dependent upon the types of clay being


used in the initial production process, the
one major issue that faces all producers in
the firing of their products is the effect of
scumming on the fired bricks. From
numerous reports and investigations it
appears that the two major sources of this
scumming are either sulphates or chlorides,
however we have also seen some smaller
instances from fluoride and vanadium.

There are different products that can be used


to aid scumming such as a clay conditioner, a
combined clay conditioner and anti、-、 scumming
product or a pure anti-scumming agent
depending on the levels of salt in your clays.
These additives are able to prevent the
migration of certain soluble salts to the
surface of the drying clay structure. They
are able to form insoluble compounds while
still providing some lubrication and binding
Example of fired product with no
properties. anti-scumming product available

The same clay sample with the addition of a number of clay conditioner and anti-scumming agents

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

CONCLUSION
As you can see, the use of clay conditioners
can help in many ways to optimise your
brick and roof tile manufacturing process. In
mixing clay with water clay conditioners act
as a wetting agent reducing surface tension
of the aqueous phase and promoting more
homogeneous mixing. In shaping the water
soluble lubricant promotes a better flow
of particles when a force is applied thus
reducing friction between the clay and the
material applying the force. As soon as water
begins to leave the article, clay conditioners
promote increased bond strength resulting
in a faster rate of strength gain. During the
drying process the conditioner increase the
breaking strength of the clay mix and by
forming a surface layer hardens edges and
other vulnerable points of the article.
We highly recommend the use of these
additives to be able to gain the best performance
from your production. The next step would
be to analyse your clay finding the best and
most suitable clay conditioner for you. We are
then able to give full technical support during
factory trials and analysis of results.

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BioKeram Green efficiency for ceramic applications

CONTACT

Do you want to know more about the use


of additives and how they can enhance the
properties of your clay?

Our technical experts all over the world will


be happy to help you! Contact them:

Miguel Ten Bill Daidone


Technical Manager Europe Technical Manager North
and Middle East and South America
miguel.ten@borregaard.com bill.daidone@borregaard.com

Jack Pongdet Jonathan Savage


Technical Manager APAC Technical Manager UK,
jack.pongdet@borregaard.com South Africa and Australia
jonathan.savage@borregaard.com

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