Ceramics: An ancient material with an evolving future

 

Humans have used ceramics for more than 25,000 years. “Once humans discovered that clay could be dug up and formed into objects by first mixing with water and then firing, the ceramic industry was born.”

 

clayfigure

Fired Clay Venus From Dolni Vestonice, (26,000 – 24,000 BCE)

 

From those humble beginnings, the ceramic industry has moved on to provide products for high tech industries like the computer, aerospace, medical, and filtration industries. Technical ceramics, also known as high-performance ceramics, are inorganic ceramic materials. Their unique structural and functional properties make ceramics the ideal choice, especially for thermally, mechanically, and chemically demanding applications like those often found in the Cleantech industry.

 

cerahelixtubes

ceramic supports used for filtration by Cerahelix

 

The benefits of ceramics are shown by the increase in popularity of ceramic filters in the filtration industry. At the moment, Polymer filters dominate the market with nearly 70% market share; however, recently there has been a rise in ceramic materials being used to manufacture high purity filters. For newly emerging markets looking to adopt filtration due to a need for higher purity (often driven by regulations), increased energy efficiency, or decreased use of freshwater resources, the use of non-polymeric membranes, such as ceramic membranes, is growing significantly faster.

 

Industries where the conditions, such as extreme pH, high temperature, presence of solvents, or high fouling due to organics/dissolved solids, are not amenable to polymer filters include the oil and gas, food and beverage, fine chemicals, and pharma industries. The other large advantage that ceramic filters have over Polymer filters is their sustainablility. Polymer filters are made of plastics and will sit in landfills long after they have been used, while ceramic filters will break down into dust.

 

According to a report from marketsandmarkets, the Technical Ceramics Market is projected to reach $7,614.58 million by 2019, signifying firm annualized growth of 6.49% between 2014 and 2019.

 

Among the key players in the Technical Ceramic Market are several US companies: CoorsTek, Inc. (U.S.), McDanel Advanced Ceramic Technologies (U.S.), Ceradyne, Inc. (3M Company) (U.S.), and Superior Technical Ceramics (U.S.). However, there are many more technical ceramic manufacturers in the US, which was apparent at the Ceramics Expo 2016 held in Cleveland, Ohio in April of this year. More than 280 exhibitors were showcasing their products and technologies for the ceramic industry.

 

ceramicsexpo

 

Cerahelix VP of Business Strategy, Jutta von Dirke, visited the trade show this year, and was impressed by the range of ceramic companies present. For a company like Cerahelix, which manufactures ceramic membranes, CeramicsExpo was a venue to meet potential suppliers and collaborators. Jutta met with more than 20 exhibitors and found at least 5 new potential suppliers.

 

Cerahelix’s ceramic based technology is one example of the varied applications ceramics have in the modern Cleantech industry. This ancient material is sturdy and sustainable, making it a material of choice for the future.

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