Design to Manufacture: Realising the creative and commercial potential of a unique aesthetic 'Eco-material'

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Art, Design and Performance

Abstract

This project builds on a previous AHRC funded project: 'The Aesthetic of Waste' - an investigation of the creative & commercial potential of kiln cast re-cycled mineral waste (Binns, 2008).
The primary aim of the project is: 'Through a 'design-led' approach, further exploit the creative and commercial potential of 'high value' Eco-material, developed within the previous AHRC funded award'.
The original research, with its roots in craft practice, involved developing a process for converting glass, ceramic and mineral waste into a functional, aesthetic, high-value Eco-material. The innovative material offers architects and designers a cladding and surface product imbued with a unique aesthetic, possessing significant sustainable properties.
The kiln casting process converts 'low value' waste into a 'high value' product, made from 97-100% recycled waste, without any cementatious or synthetic polymers, used in many existing 'green' composite products. The process utilizes locally sourced waste, thus avoiding excessive transportation of raw materials. All manufacturing waste can be re-introduced into the input stream (Zero Waste, Closed Loop Manufacturing) and can be recycled at end of life (Cradle to Cradle Design Paradigm, End of Life Manufacturing).
Whilst the Research Team developed a number of prototype samples, demonstrating a wide range of aesthetic qualities, the resources available within the existing research facility limited the creative scope of the research.
This project involves establishing a pilot-manufacturing unit, which would enhance creative development of the new material and facilitate increased scales of production (size and volume). Through increasing the creative and commercial potential of the material, the project will expand the aesthetic vocabulary for architects, designers and craft-makers - offering a broader range of design solutions.
The research team intend developing 'design led' products, aimed at architects and designers who are particularly focused on the use of innovative and sustainable building products. A priority of the research team is to exploit how increased scales of manufacture, in turn increases the creative possibilities, through previously unforeseen artistic output, including the possibility for engagement in public art projects and engendering a sense of place through utilizing locally sourced raw materials.
The project entails the Research Team working in collaboration with a project partner, Recycling Lives (RL), a 'Queens Award for Sustainable Enterprise' winning company, based in Preston, UK. RL are a perfect fit as partner as they are a major UK recycling company with over forty years experience in the recycling and waste management industry. It is proposed that the pilot plant would be established on their premises. They will provide, in kind, manufacturing, business administration, sales and marketing support, through their company infrastructure.
An unforeseen pathway to impact, emerging from the above-completed research, addresses the recycling of CRT lead-bearing glass - currently presenting a major environmental problem to both the UK and global recycling industry, due to the high lead content of the glass. With 1.9 billion screens still in use globally, there is an urgent need to develop novel, environmentally acceptable solutions.
The research team has undertaken preliminary empirical research, which suggests that the incorporation of CRT glass in the new Eco-material can result in the lead content being safely encapsulated. Proving the safe encapsulation of lead within the new Eco-material, would be a crucial step towards realising the commercial potential of CRT lead glass, whilst also offering a novel solution to the CRT recycling problem.

The project will demonstrate how research, originating within creative art practice, can lead to the delivery of significant creative, economic, social and environmental impacts.

Planned Impact

The project offers four key areas of impact, each increasing as and when the manufacturing and commercial activity develops over time: design/creativity, economic, environmental and social.
Firstly, the project will deliver design/creativity impacts. The functional and aesthetic properties of the new material, combined with the opportunity to increase scales of production, offers artists, designers craft-makers and architects, significant opportunity for creative development and expression. The potential of the material spans the spectrum of creative activity from one-off sculptural forms, design-led bespoke items, to high volume, mass-produced products; providing a new 'aesthetic vocabulary' for existing exterior and interior architectural applications such as tiling, cladding, counter surfaces etc.
Exploiting the creative potential of the new material, would in turn would deliver economic impacts through sales of products and employment. The Research Team expects to be in a position to start trading by the end of the grant. If proven successful, the longer-term objective would be to expand production within the UK.
The direct benefits to the UK economy are in anticipated employment, revenue generation and tax receipts. In the short to medium term (years one and two) the pilot plant will create between three and six manufacturing jobs along with between two and four sales and marketing jobs within the UK. In the longer term, increasing production capacity would further increase employment opportunities.
Thirdly, the project offers significant environmental impact through stakeholders in the following industries and fields:
* The CRT and post-consumer glass recycling industries;
* The ceramic & glass industries;
* Waste management and disposal;
* Sustainable building materials industry;
Government agencies including the Environment Agency, WRAP and DEFRA.
The project anticipates direct benefits to the UK environment and in the longer term wider global environment in four ways; by diverting both hazardous and non-hazardous waste from landfill; by reducing reliance on finite virgin building materials; by reducing global transportation of raw materials and finally by reducing the transport of hazardous waste to developing countries.
A distinct and potentially important impact will be the development a novel method for the safe re-use of CRT funnel glass. Disposal of CRT glass represents a considerable global problem. Without new applications for CRT much of this hazardous glass currently stockpiled around the UK would need to be disposed of in specialist landfill.
The social impacts of the project will initially be realised through project partners Recycling Lives. The pilot plant workforce will be drawn from RL's corporate social responsibility initiative, which currently employs vulnerable and marginalised individuals on predominately unskilled jobs within the recycling industry. Working alongside the Research Team, setting up and running pilot manufacturing plant will give the workforce, manufacturing experience and skills that are transferrable to the wider ceramic, stone and tile industry. If the pilot plant proves successful, the Research Team envisage a larger manufacturing plant could be established, involving a larger workforce, further increasing the economic and social impacts.
With the ultimate aim being to exploit the technology in other territories, where the same wastes are available and similar environmental and legislative concerns are important, the project could generate potentially significant global economic, environmental and social impacts.
Impacts disseminated through non-academic channels will be in the form of company press releases and targeted marketing of the products attributes via design and architectural journals and magazines, as well as through trade fairs and exhibitions.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title 'Young Clay' 
Description Artworks demonstrates application of new materials made from fused recycled waste glass and ceramic 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Prototype sample of new material. Material demonstrates many sustainable credentials: Made from 100% recycled waste Low fusing temperature Utilises locally sourced waste Can be recycled at end of life Material has numerous architectural applications 
URL https://www.facebook.com/keramikmuseum#!/keramikmuseum/photos/pcb.749256985092004/749256471758722/?t...
 
Title ALUSID Product Development - new tables made from SilicaStone. London Design Festival / Ace Hotel / Modern Design Review 
Description ALUSID was invited by Modern Design Review magazine, to produce 3 new prototype tables (in collaboration with designers Soft Baroque). The tables were exhibited as part of the 'Ready Made Go' collection at Ace Hotel, as part of London Design Festival. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The new tables made from 100% recycled industrial ceramic and glass waste, have resulted in both Economic and Environmental Impacts. The tables enhance the creative possibilities of ALUSID's SilicaStone eco-material and therefore offer new product lines that will in turn lead to further economic benefits. The sustainable credentials of the material offer Environmental Impacts - diverting waste away from landfill and the making of design-led products from low-value industrial waste. 
URL https://www.dezeen.com/2017/09/20/ready-made-go-3-recycled-baths-tv-screens-plastics-ace-hotel-londo...
 
Title British Ceramic Biennial 
Description In response to my interest in developing work that is communicates a sense of place, I was invited to participate in a project titled 'Clay Cargoes'. The project involved exploring the building and use of the canal system between Stoke on Trent to London. The canals in part funded by Josiah Wedgwood, were used to transport ceramic ware manufactured in Stoke, to showrooms in London. My contribution to the Clay Cargoes project involved dredging sections of the canal system in Stoke in order to gather shards of pottery discarded by the pottery industry. I also gathered pottery shards from the bank of the River Thames in London. The gathered material was used to create a piece of work - 'Shard Vessel' - applying processes of fusing together recycled material developed in other projects. The large piece of work 'Shard Vessel' was featured in the 2015 British Ceramic Biennial at the Old Spode Factory in Stoke on Trent. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The research undertaken to develop this work has since been applied to further creative projects - exploring the embedding of gathered found material into work, in order to create 'ceramic fossils' - fragments of historical material used to develop work within a contemporary context. 
URL http://www.claygroundcollective.org/videos-2/
 
Title International Ceramics Symposium Exhibition 
Description Artwork demonstrated application of new material made from fused recycled waste glass and ceramic. Exhibition venue: The Imperial Ancestral Temple, The Forbidden City, Beijing 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Material demonstrates many sustainable credentials: Made from 100% recycled waste Low fusing temperature Utilises locally sourced waste Can be recycled at end of life Material has numerous achitectural applications 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSE8bCquNLE
 
Title New Taipei City Yingge Ceramic Museum, Taiwan - Artwork obtained to be paced in permenant museum collection. 
Description Artwork obtained for permanent display in the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramic Museum, Taipei, Taiwan. Artwork demonstrated application of new material made from fused recycled waste glass and ceramic and how the material can be used to convey a sense of place. Included fragments of historical pottery found in the River Thames, London. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Artwork demonstrates many sustainable credentials: Made from 100% recycled waste Low fusing temperature Utilises locally sourced waste Communicates a sense of place Material has numerous achitectural applications 
 
Title SELSIUS-USM International Ceramic Festival 
Description Artwork exhibited at the SELSIUS-USM International Ceramic Festival Also invited guest artist at this event. Artwork demonstrated application of new material made from fused recycled waste glass and ceramic 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Prototype sample of new material. Material demonstrates many sustainable credentials: Made from 100% recycled waste Low fusing temperature Utilises locally sourced waste Can be recycled at end of life Material has numerous achitectural applications 
URL http://selsius2014.usm.my/index.php/admin/artist-list/193-david-binns-uk
 
Title Surface Design - International Design Trade Fair 
Description A display of ALUSID's latest prototype products were shown at the Surface Design Show, at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London. The display generated considerable interest from Architects and Designers, leading to a number of orders. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Involvement in the Surface Design Trade Fair has offered a number of new impacts: Economic, Social and Enviromental. Economically, the event has led to a number of new orders for ALUSID. Socially, off the back of the orders received, ALUSID has just taken on 2 new staff members, to help increase production capacity, so the new orders can be fulfilled. Environmentally, the orders are for ALUSID's SilicaStone tiling and surfacing ec0-material - made from 100% recycled industrial ceramic and glass waste. This waste would otherwise be destined for landfill. Furthermore, the SilicaStone products are significantly more sustainable than any other similar products in the marketplace. 
URL http://www.surfacedesignshow.com/exhibiting/exhibitor-profile/panaz-ltd
 
Title Taiwan International Ceramic Bienniale 
Description Artwork Shortlisted Finalist for the 2016 Taiwan International Ceramic Bienniale. Exhibition of artwork at the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramic Museum, Taipei Artwork demonstrated application of new material made from fused recycled waste glass and ceramic and how the material can be used to convey a sense of place. Included fragments of historical pottery found in the River Thames, London. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Artwork demonstrates many sustainable credentials: Made from 100% recycled waste Low fusing temperature Utilises locally sourced waste Communicates a sense of place Material has numerous achitectural applications 
URL http://public.ceramics.ntpc.gov.tw/biennale/en/finallist.html
 
Title UNESCO International Academy of Ceramics - Dublin, Ireland 
Description Artwork demonstrated application of new material made from fused recycled waste glass and ceramic 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Prototype sample of new material. Material demonstrates many sustainable credentials: Made from 100% recycled waste Low fusing temperature Utilises locally sourced waste Can be recycled at end of life Material has numerous architectural applications 
URL http://imgpublic.mci-group.com/ie/PCO/IAC2014_catalogue.pdf
 
Description A number of objectives have however been realised:

Development of a product range in readiness for full production.
The the Investigators have undertaken a process of creative development and prototype production of a range of new products, in order to begin exploiting the artistic/creative possibilities of the new material. In particular they identified an existing product commonly known as a 'slip'. This product is essentially a decorative tile, designed to embellish existing wall surfaces. This product is increasingly popular with architects and interior designers, evidenced in numerous new architecture projects and high street stores. Existing products are either made in either brick clay or thin sections of imported stone - relying entirely on unreplenishable sources of raw material.
Using this basic idea, the investigators have designed a range of decorative facing slips made entirely from 100% waste material. The original, simple tessellating shape has been expanded to become more three dimensional, offering a far wider range of aesthetic possibilities. A variety of dimensions, configurations, textures and colours have been developed, offering a range of creative possibilities. This product and its associated making processes is now in a state of readiness awaiting larger scale production.

Imbuing a sense of place within the new material and products we create, is a central part of the aesthetic aims of the project. The Investigators have used the period to develop two projects, which explore introducing a 'Sense of Place' within the material. The first project involved investigating how Welsh slate waste may be utilised within the process. Slate waste is in abundance across many areas of North Wales and Cumbria. Furthermore, this material defines the architectural vernacular of many towns and villages in these regions. As such, the Investigators saw this material providing an ideal opportunity to develop a new material, with the aim being to both capitalise on the huge volumes of waste slate, whilst echoing the natural aesthetic of the region. The Investigators have undertaken a significant number tests introducing varying percentages of crushed slate waste. The team are continuing to develop tests with this material, believing it broadens the overall aesthetic scope of the new material.

The second Place-based project has been an evolving collaboration with Clayground Collective, a London Based arts group that work with various artists and designers using ceramics. Their project 'Clay Cargo 2014', seeks to renew the connection between ceramics and the waterways, examining sites along the canals between London, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent.
The investigators were invited to respond to two sites: Middleport Pottery in Stoke and the Thames foreshore. The project makes use of the material's ability to encapsulate ceramic and industrial fragments within the glass/ceramic matrix to create contemporary objects. The aim being to create material samples that convey a clear locational identity whilst evoking a strong sense of the history of both places.
At Middleport pottery fragments of broken pottery were dredged up from the canal and dug from local spoil heaps, before being encapsulated within the forming process in ways that retain the identity of each fragment.
Along the Thames foreshore the tide reveals a huge range of ceramic fragments from broken medieval pottery to turn of the century tobacco pipes; the variety of objects reflecting the rich social history along the Thames. Similar to the Middleport work, these shard fragments were encapsulated within the glass ceramic matrix, changing the meaning of the found objects through a process of metamorphosis. The discarded fragments of pottery are transformed into a piece of art that is both contemporary in it's appearance and intent, yet is imbued with a strong resonance of both history and place.

The Investigators see this objective of the project as increasingly important, providing many opportunities for the creation of products that convey site-specific messages about social history and industrial archeology. In turn, the Investigators believe this can be capitalised on commercially, providing many opportunities to collaborate with architects and designers, developing unique, bespoke products for inclusion in their design schemes.

One of the more commercially beneficial processes that the Follow-on Grant has allowed us to explore is the use of CRT glass to replace the glass recovered from post-consumer containers. One of the major challenges in using this lead glass is the toxic nature of the glass for production and ultimately its use in the environment. We have successfully tested a number of CRT glass products and have identified temperatures at which we are seeing very small amounts of lead leaching post finishing. We have had samples tested internally and have had some samples forwarded to the National Labs Service for testing to see any potential hazards that might be present from leaching in service and at end of life.
Exploitation Route Currently the key findings are being used to establish the commercial viability of the spin-out company ALUSID.

As outlined in the original grant proposal, an number of artists have been introduced to the unique material and associated manufacturing processes. They are contributing to the ongoing creative development of the material.
Sectors Construction,Creative Economy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail

URL http://www.alusid.co.uk/
 
Description The findings of this award have led to establishing a University of Central Lancashire spin-out company - ALUSID. Through collaboration with Frontier IP plc, £260,000 of venture capital was secured to establish the manufacturing facility in Preston, UK. The company currently employs 3 full time staff and 3 part-time Directors. The company have established a range of architectural products made from no less than 97% recycled ceramic. glass and mineral waste. The company is currently developing a range of products and at the time of writing, is negotiating with a number of international marketing and distributing companies. The company was launched at the 100% Design International Design Fair at Olympia in London in September 2015. The University of Central Lancashire has licensed the IP to ALUSID and is currently patenting the new material developed through the AHRC funded research: RE: HGF Ref. P138508US / MAH; US Patent Application No 14/439,576; Composite Material; University of Central Lancashire. The research and associated products have been shortlisted for 3 prestigious awards: 2015 Times Higher Education - Innovation in the Arts Award 2015 Mixology North Design Awards - Winner of 'Product of the Year Award'. 2016 Homes and Gardens Design Awards - Innovation Category.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Construction,Creative Economy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

 
Description Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme
Amount £78,528 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/L00738X/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 12/2015
 
Description ALUSID - IP Frontier 
Organisation Frontier IP Group plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Our research team's contribution has been technical and creative expertise. The team has developed a unique architectural surfacing material made from no less than 97% recycled waste. The team is involved in ongoing R&D to further develop the technical and aesthetic properties of the material.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners Frontier IP provide ALUSID with financial expertise and guidance. They were instrumental in raising £260,000 venture capital to establish the company. Currently Frontier IP are preparing a further funding bid, in order to expand the scale and capability of the company.
Impact The primary outcome of the partnership has been establishing the spin-out company ALUSID, as a fully operational manufacturing facility. The partnership will also involve growing the company in terms of scales of production and diversification of product range.
Start Year 2014
 
Title Composite Material 
Description The development of a composite material made from no less than 97% recycled ceramic, glass and mineral waste. The material has application as a sustainable alternative to natural stone architectural surfacing materials, with the added advantage that it can be formulated in almost any colour. The material has zero manufacturing waste and can be fully recycled at end of life. 
IP Reference : HGF Ref. P138508US / MAH; US Patent Application No 14/439,576 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed No
Impact The new company (ALUSID) has generated employment for 3 people full-time and 3 part-time. The products developed by the company have been shortlisted for 3 awards: Times Higher Education - Innovation in the Arts Award 2015 Mixology North Design Awards - Winner of the 'Product of the Year' category. Homes & Gardens 2016 Designer Awards - Innovation category
 
Title Composite Material 
Description The development of a composite material made from no less than 97% recycled ceramic, glass and mineral waste. The material has application as a sustainable alternative to natural stone architectural surfacing materials, with the added advantage that it can be formulated in almost any colour. The material has zero manufacturing waste and can be fully recycled at end of life. 
IP Reference HGF Ref. P138508USC1 / MAH; US Divisional Patent Application No 15/276,086 based on 14/439,576; Composite Material; University of Central Lancashire 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed No
Impact The company (ALUSID) has generated employment for 3 people full-time and 3 part-time. The products developed by the company have won 2 awards: 2015 Mixology North Design Awards - Winner of the 'Product of the Year' category. 2016 IChem E Global Awards - Best Business Start-up Company. Impacts are economic, social and environmental.
 
Company Name ALUSID 
Description ALUSID is a University of Central Lancashire spin-out company set up to realise the commercial opportunities of an Eco-material - developed through two AHRC awards: . The Aesthetic of Waste - an investigation of the creative and commercial potential of kiln cast re-cycled mineral waste. . Design to Manufacture: Realising the creative and commercial potential of a unique aesthetic 'Eco-material' The company was set up with £260,000 venture capital, secured by commercialisation partners Frontier IP. The University has Licensed the IP to ALUSID. Currently the company employs 3 permanent staff, including Dr Alasdair Brenmer who is Operations Manager. Professor David Binns is seconded to ALUSID, as Creative and Technical Director. The company has a board of 3 directors: Tony Attard OBE - Chairman, Neil Crabb (Representing Frontier IP), Dr John Lonsdale (Representing UCLan). The Company has now established a fully operational pilot factory in Preston. Company address: Unit 6, Astra Business Park, Roman Way, Preston PR25AP The company was launched at the 100% Design International Design Fair at Olympia in London in September 2015. The University of Central Lancashire has licensed the IP to ALUSID and is currently patenting the new material (SilicaStone), developed through the AHRC funded research and now manufactured by ALUSID. RE: HGF Ref. P138508US / MAH; US Patent Application No 14/439,576; Composite Material; University of Central Lancashire. In 2016 Alusid won a IChem E Global Award in the category 'Best New Start-up Company' 
Year Established 2014 
Impact Manufacturing of a unique range architectural surfacing products - 'SilicaStone' - made from recycled ceramic, glass and mineral waste. The notable impacts of the material to be manufactured by the Spin-out company include: • made from between 97 - 100% recycled waste; • converts 'low value' waste into a 'high value' product; • avoids any cementateous or toxic, synthetic polymers, common to many current 'green' composite products; • low levels of embodied energy and carbon emission: • requires lower firing temperatures than conventional ceramic tiles; • utilizes locally sourced waste (avoiding excessive transportation of raw materials); • all manufacturing waste (trimmings, sludges) can be re-introduced into the raw material input stream (Zero Waste, Closed Loop Manufacturing); • can be recycled at end of life and re-introduced into the raw material input steam (Cradle to Cradle Design Paradigm, End of Life Manufacturing).
Website http://www.alusid.co.uk/