Project: Development of a measurement system for energy reduction in the ceramic industry

The production of ceramic bricks is rather energy consuming due to the high temperatures the clay brick has to be fired to become ceramic bricks. Hence, the national and European authorities are putting a lot of pressure on the ceramic brick industry to reduce their energy consumption. Moreover, also for reasons of economics (both increasing natural gas prices and CO2 emission credits) as well as competitiveness it is of great importance to reduce the required amount of energy significantly. The current kiln process control is merely based on the measurement of the flue gasses (temperature and amount) which supplies only very limited information on the actual process conditions in the product itself. The limits of process efficiency which can be achieved with this type of process control are more or less reached. Hence, if the required reduction of the energy consumption has to be achieved a different type of process control has to be developed. Aim of this project is therefor to develop a measuring method by which measurements are carried out in real time on products inside the kiln. Furthermore, this information will be translated to product properties which forms the bases for the control of the kiln process (rather then just looking to the flue gasses). For reasons that the kiln atmosphere is extremely hostile it has been chosen to use non destructive measurement methods which enables to measure properties of the product without the need to have direct contact between measuring device and the product. In a feasibility study which is carried out in preparation of this project, this turned out to be a promising approach. _x000D__x000D_In several phases the measuring system will be developed. In the first phase the required (theoretical) background will be gathered. Also a first testing of individual selected NDT devices under lab conditions will take place. In the second phase measurements will be carried out on a factory kiln in order to sample data on both measuring the product inside the kiln as well as first experiences on the response of the systems in a factory kiln surrounding. In the third phase several NDT devices will be combined in order to collect data in the different stages of the kiln, as well as to analyze whether the combination of NDT methods gives a synergy resulting in a better information on the product properties at any given time. In the next phase the aspects considering the translation from the signals from the measuring devices into operational kiln control will be looked upon. In the 5th phase a longer term test will be carried out in which a combination of different firing curves and brick types will be tested as well as long term behavior of the devices themselves. When this phase is carried out basically all the required data and (back ground) information as a basis for the development of the measuring system are gathered. Subsequently in the 6th phase the actual measuring system will be developed. This will consist of the required adjusted/developed measuring devices, the configuration (in terms of which device at what location and the measurement frequency etc.) and the translation of the data into operational kiln control. It is foreseen that at the end of this phase both a working prototype of the system is developed and the general approach by which the specification of the system can be set up given an individual kiln._x000D__x000D_After this project the implementation in several factories of Vandersanden will occur as start of developing the market which is a combined action of the other Ps. The market in Europe is estimated to be several hundred kilns on which this measuring system could be applied. Worldwide there are many thousands ceramic brick kilns which have the required technological standard to make application of a modern control system potentially possible. _x000D__x000D_The Ps are a R&D bureau (IBR Consult BV) specialised in the development of mineral building products (such as ceramic bricks) with the emphasis on the material aspects as well as the interaction between material aspects and process requirements. The second P is a ceramic brick manufacturer (Vandersanden) which owns in the Netherlands two state of the art ceramic brick production plants and has a competent staff to be able to carry out the complex testing at one of their kilns. Moreover, they have the required know how on the brick firing process itself. The third P is Sensor Ps which is a developer and supplier of all kinds of NDT devices with their own application laboratories. _x000D__x000D_Based on the business analyses it is seen to be possible to have a return on investment between 2 and 4 years depending on both scenario and P: Vandersanden will get its return due to the decreasing amount of required natural gas for firing the kiln, the other Ps by selling the system worldwide. The market approach will be to start in Benelux and Germany and then expand step by step throughout the world.

Acronym NDTCER (Reference Number: 6866)
Duration 01/02/2012 - 30/04/2014
Project Topic Development of a measurement system, by which the kiln processes in the ceramic brick manufacturing can be significantly optimized. The measurement system consist of (a combination of) non destructive measurement techniques with an interpretation and process control tool.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
In this project a measuring system has been developed with which the relevant product properties can be measured in a factory kiln. This measurement system consists of developed measurement devices which samples relevant data under plant kiln conditions. Long term tests have been carried out in a factory kiln. From these tests it was concluded that the variation is too high and therefor it was not possible to incorporate the measurement signals in the process controlsystem.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 7

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 IBR Consult BV Coordinator Netherlands
3 Vandersanden Steenfabriek Hedikhuizen Partner Netherlands
3 Sensor Ps Belgie Partner Belgium