Refractory concrete: A material that offers new ceramic opportunities.

Bremner, Alasdair and Alkandari, Fahad (2011) Refractory concrete: A material that offers new ceramic opportunities. In: Proceedings of International Ceramics Symposium. Conference Proceedings, Frolunda Culture House, Gothenburg, Sweden, pp. 139-146. ISBN 978-9163381843

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Refractory concretes (RC) are industrial materials used most commonly in high temperature applications, primarily in the steel and glass industries. In most cases they are a mix of refractory aggregate’s chosen for specific hot engineering applications combined with a cement binder. RCs are known to ceramicists largely only for their insulating properties for which they are used in the manufacture of kilns as hot face lining. However, currently very little information is available regarding the structural and aesthetic possibilities that RC can offer to the artist and designer. Refractory concrete displays novel handling properties that include: increased green and fired toughness and strength, thermal shock resistance, ceramic glaze compatibility, thixotropic effects and rapid setting. These properties offer the opportunity to achieve the creation of objects that do not conform to some of the traditional limitations of conventional clay and yet are able draw upon the vast array of ceramic surface decoration available to the ceramicist [1]. This paper seeks to inform readers on the possibilities of RC and the potential for their use by smaller scale manufacturers in architectural applications through some practical advice and instruction on their use. The paper goes on to discuss how RC has been used in a recent PhD project to create contemporary Islamic ceramics that draw upon the rich history of ceramics in Arab states. The paper questions specifically how the cultural sustainability of Islamic architectural ceramics can be fostered in the face of western globalization and modernization and how RC might offer part of a solution.

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