Creative and technical research into silicates-based materials
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Central Lancashire
Unit of AssessmentArt and Design: History, Practice and Theory
Summary Impact TypeTechnological
Research Subject Area(s)
Chemical Sciences: Analytical Chemistry
Engineering: Materials Engineering
Built Environment and Design: Design Practice and Management
Summary of the impact
Projects within the Silicates Research Unit have expanded the aesthetic
and technical boundaries of ceramic materials and have had a significant
impact on sustainable practices and materials within contemporary design.
In response to increasingly stringent sustainable construction
legislation, an AHRC Grant (£163,000) funded Binns and Bremner's
development of a unique process for converting low-value mineral waste
into high-value architectural products, avoiding reliance on
Testing by the Environment Agency National Testing Laboratory has
verified their innovative material meets British Standards for
architectural materials (UK patent application, currently pending
publication). It has also confirmed that the incorporation of Cathode Ray
Tube (CRT) lead bearing glass (designated by the Environment Agency as
hazardous waste) in the new material results in the lead content being
safely encapsulated, offering a solution to the global problem of
hazardous CRT waste glass recycling - allowing CRT glass to be
re-classified as a safe raw material.
This case study outlines research undertaken both individually and in
collaboration by David Binns (Reader in Contemporary Ceramics) and Dr
Alasdair Bremner (Post-Doctoral Fellow). Since 2004, Binns' research has
involved developing processes for adapting ceramic bodies through the
inclusion of aggregates, in order to enrich the visual properties of
unadorned clay bodies. Bremner's research into refractory concrete
explored how this industrial material can be successfully utilised in the
production of objects for design-led applications, combining the
functionality of concrete with the considerable surface possibilities of
ceramics. Both bodies of research have challenged conventions within the
fields of contemporary ceramics and architectural embellishment,
increasing the range of creative possibilities available to practitioners,
broadening the aesthetic vocabulary and increasing the potential for more
Since 2007, Binns and Bremner have collaborated on a number of projects,
informed by concerns about the environmental implications of excessive
mineral consumption within the construction industry (Binns,`WASTE &
PLACE', 2011). The research has involved sourcing and combining a wide
range of low-value recycled waste materials, resulting in an high-value
material imbued with both unique aesthetic properties and significant
`sustainable characteristics' that utilises ceramic waste from the tile
and sanitary ware industry, quarry waste and waste container glass,
materials often currently consigned to landfill. The material is
appropriate for a number of architectural applications, such as cladding,
facing bricks, tiling systems and counter-surfaces. Tests by CERAM have
shown the material meets the necessary British Standards for internal and
external architectural materials.
Emerging from the research, a recent development addresses the recycling
of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) lead-bearing glass - currently designated by the
Environment Agency as hazardous waste and presenting a major environmental
problem to both the UK and the global recycling industry, due to the issue
of lead content contaminating groundwater. Testing by the Environment
Agency National Testing Laboratory has verified that incorporation of CRT
glass in the new material results in the lead content being safely
encapsulated, offering a solution to the global problem of hazardous CRT
waste glass recycling - allowing CRT glass to be re-classified as a safe
Impact on Cultural Discourse
Since 2004, Binns' research has involved developing innovative processes
for adapting ceramic bodies that have broadened the aesthetic vocabulary
and technical boundaries of contemporary ceramics - resulting in
invitations to participate in many international exhibitions, workshops
and conferences (see section 4), including invited membership to the
UNESCO International Academy of Ceramics (Geneva).
"Binns explores how clay can be altered and manipulated to evoke both
imagined and manufactured archaeology, that makes reference to
geological qualities of clay, while also creating an illusory
history....intriguingly ambiguous, combining grandeur with a suggestion
of function", Emmanuel Cooper (2000, p6).
Commenting on the significance of Bremner's research, Merek Cecula,
curator of Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics, in his
catalogue introduction, stated:
"Research continues on the potential to use ceramic materials for
architecture and interior structures. David Binns and Alasdair Bremner
from the University of Central Lancashire (UK) lead the field by
challenging the traditional limitations of clay and investigating the
creative and aesthetic possibilities of recycled ceramic waste".
References to the research
Binns, D., 2012a. A Methodology For Recycling Ceramic Waste - an
investigation of the creative potential of re-cycled glass and ceramic
waste. NCECA conference book - Seattle, USA
Binns, D., 2011. `WASTE & PLACE' - an investigation of the creative
potential of re-cycled glass and ceramic waste. Ceramic Arts &
Design for a Sustainable Society - Conference Journal. Gothenburg,
Sweden Pgs 64-74 ISBN: 9789163381843
Bremner, A. (2009) `Brick Project' European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC)
Exhibitions and Books, Dutch Design Week 2009. Brick: The Book.
Edited by Rene Erven and Noor Zwinkels. ISBN: ISBN 978-90-70666-pp 24-8
Binns,D,. 2012b. `A methodology for Recycling Ceramic waste - an
investigation of the creative potential of re-cycled glass and ceramic
waste'. In: Harrison,R., 2013. Sustainable Practice in Ceramics.
London: A&C Black Publishing. ISNB 978-1408157589
Binns,D., 2012c. `The Aesthetic of Waste - collaborative research
exploring the creative & commercial potential of kiln cast re-cycled
mineral waste'. In: Kettle, A., 2013. Collaboration Through Craft.
Bristol Classical Press. ISBN: 0857853910
Details of the impact
The impact of this research has been on two main groups of beneficiaries:
- the ceramic & glass industries;
- the sustainable building materials industry;
Ceramics and Glass industry (Impact on studio and industrial
Collaborative research developed by Binns and Bremner, bridging art
practice, craft, design and industrial manufacturing, has had a
significant impact in a number of ways on the creative, technical and
sustainable development of silicate-based materials. Binns' research into
adapting clay bodies has freed clay artists and designers from a reliance
on traditional surface treatments such as glaze, expanding the repertoire
of aesthetic approaches to the material. A number of key internationally
published ceramics texts highlight the distinctiveness of these processes:
- Standon,K., 2013. Additions to Clay Bodies. A&C Black.
- Taylor,L., 2011. Ceramics - Tools and Techniques for the
Contemporary Maker: Jacqui Small LLP. ISBN-13: 978-1906417673
- Perryman, J., 2008. Naked Clay. A&C Black.
- Aggregates in Ceramic Bodies - a Research Project. Ceramic
Technical - International Ceramics Periodical (Australia), Issue
No. 23, (2007), 57- 62. ISSN 1324 4175.
- Terre et Verre Fusionnés. La Revue de la Céramique et du Verre,
Issue No. 152 (2007), 21 - 23. ISSN 0294-202 X.
Impact on the wider professional practitioner and academic audiences has
also been achieved through Binns being invited to participate in a number
of international conferences and symposia:
- Meeting the Masters programme, The International Ceramic Studio,
- SERES09 International Ceramics Conference, Anadolu University, Turkey
- International Ceramics Studio, Hungary (2011).
- Ceramic Art & Design for a Sustainable Society Conference,
Gothenburg, Sweden 2011.
- Zibo, China (2011).
- Wanju City, S. Korea (2013).
- Invited guest speaker at the 2013 Gyeonggi International Ceramic
Binns research, examining how recycled ceramic materials may be
integrated into ceramic production, was presented at the NCECA conference
in Seattle, USA and is featured in a new book: Harrison, R., 2013. Sustainable
Practice in Ceramics. London: A&C Black. The process is being
adopted increasingly within both studio and industrial environments and is
having a significant impact in promoting sustainable practice.
Sustainable building materials industry (Impact on Environment)
Following receipt of an AHRC Large Research Grant 2008-2011 (£163,454) `The
Aesthetic of Waste' - an investigation of the creative & commercial
potential of kiln cast re-cycled mineral waste (Grant Reference:
AH/E009492/1), the researchers developed a unique material, made
from recycled glass, ceramic and mineral waste, offering applications
within a variety of architectural contexts. Binns & Bremner's
collaborative development of this new material, which offers innovative
solutions to architectural products, has a number of sustainable
characteristics, which sets it apart from other architectural materials:
- It is made from 97-100% recycled waste;
- It avoids any cementateous or synthetic polymers, common to many
current `green' composite products;
- It requires a lower firing duration and lower temperatures than
conventional ceramic production, which lowers carbon emissions;
- All manufacturing waste (trimmings, sludges) can be re-introduced into
the raw material input stream (Zero Waste, Closed Loop Manufacturing);
- It can be recycled at end of life and re-introduced into the raw
material input steam (Cradle to Cradle Design Paradigm, End of Life
The project offers a number of significant environmental impacts:
- The material provides architects and designers with a sustainable
alternative to products such as clay tiles and stone cladding; products
derived from non-replenishable virgin materials.
- It diverts low value waste streams from landfill into the production
of a high-value product.
- The process utilizes locally sourced waste (avoiding excessive
transportation of raw materials).
Impacts have been delivered through knowledge exchange with an
international design audience, and through participation in a number
`Ceramics & Architecture', Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven 2009. Object
Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics, Gardiner Museum, Toronto &
Museum of Arts & Design, New York, USA. 2009.
Prototypes of the new material, exhibited at 100% Design, London, 2010,
generated considerable interest from Architects and Designers (including
ARUP, Foster & Partners and White Design).
The utilization of waste, lead-bearing CRT glass, offers significant
additional environmental impacts. The recycling and disposal of CRT glass
is a pressing global environmental problem due to the lead content,
prohibiting its use in most established recycled-glass applications.
Globally, it is estimated that at least 1.9 billon screens are still in
use. The process of safely encapsulating lead-bearing CRT glass in their
new material, developed by Binns & Bremner, offers a real solution to
the global problem of hazardous CRT glass recycling. Testing has also
verified that the CRT glass bearing material can be either recycled or if
necessary, safely land-filled at end of life. A spin-out company is
currently being established, to exploit these new technologies and a
patent has been filed to protect the IP (International Patent Application
No PCT/GB2013/052820 Claiming priority from GB 1219511.1)
Sources to corroborate the impact
CONTACT 1: Alexis Harrison, Senior Designer (Materials), ARUP, London.
CONTACT 2: Tim Forster, WHITE DESIGN Architects, Bristol.
CONTACT 3: Paul Finnerty, Legal Director, Recycling Lives Ltd.
CONTACT 4: Mike Brennand, Regional Director NW, Frontier IP Group Plc.
CONTACT 5: Steve Mattison, International Co-ordinator, International
Ceramics Studio (Kecskemet, Hungary).