- Material sciences and production techniques -


The use of waste materials in ceramic building materials

The research aims at comprehensively examinig the utilization of waste materials in a ceramic product, integrating material studies to research in finished products. The demand to find novel ways of using waste materials is increasing constantly. The trend is to replace virgin raw materials with waste materials to an ever-increasing extent, in those branches where this is possible. 


The study covers waste materials such as fly ash, sewage sludge and recycled glass. The water and sewage works in Finland produce 200 000 tons of dry sewage sludge annually. Some of the waste is utilized, some of it is dumped. Fly ash is a waste from power plants and an excellent raw material for ceramics, being already once fired. 

The research is financed by the Academy of Finland for the years 1995 - 1996. On the basis of this project, Martina Eriksson is writing her licentiate thesis in engineering and Desire Sevelius her licentiate thesis in art and design. The research has been carried out in co-operation with Staffordshire University (UK), Water and Sewage Works for the City of Helsinki (HKVV) and Helsinki Energy Board (HKE). The research is divided into the following two areas: 

The combination of utility by-products with red earthenware - a material study / Martina Eriksson
The goal of the material study is to find a ceramic body containing utility by-products and red earthenware in combination that is suitable for ceramic production. The by-products used are fly ash and sewage sludge. Different amounts of the by-products are incorporated with the red earthenware and extruded to small bricks in a laboratory extruder. Physical properties of the fired bodies are determined. 
The study of products manufactured using waste materials / Desiree Sevelius
When planning new building materials, the main focus must be on the aesthetical aspects and the durability of the material. In the long run, economical and ecological building methods mean using wear-resistant materials that withstand time and aging. 

I have designed and made testpieces for unglazed tiles and bricks for exterior use, using sewage sludge, fly ash, recycled glass and red earthenware. The most important thing in designing products using waste materials is, I believe, to give the product a totally new image. It has to be a product that is wanted and appreciated because it is made of waste materials. 

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Martina Eriksson, @
Desire Sevelius, @

University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH
Department of Ceramics and Glass
Hämeentie 135 C 
FIN-00560 Helsinki, Finland 
phone: +358 9 75630399, fax: +358 9 75630275