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Creating aesthetic low-carbon new building materials


‘The Aesthetic of Waste’ project led by Professor David Binns and Dr Alasdair Bremner, at the University of Central Lancashire’s Silicates Research Unit, developed prototypes of a new material made of recycled glass, ceramic and mineral waste, with application in the building and architectural sectors. Binns and Bremner have developed a unique process and a revolutionary new material, which combines the functionality and surface possibilities of ceramic and stone and which is now fully certified by the British Standards Association.Their patented research bridges design, craft and art practice and industrial manufacturing, offering considerable environmental, economic, creative and social impacts.

“We were driven by concerns about the environmental implications of excessive mineral consumption within the construction industry,” explains Professor Binns. “Our research involved combining a wide range of low-value waste materials normally sent to landfill, and resulted in a new, sustainable material suitable for use in everything from building cladding to counter surfaces.” The new material, made from 97-100% recycled waste, is more environmentally sound in its production methods than traditional ceramic, and can be recycled at the end of its life. In addition, recent developments have addressed the recycling of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) lead-bearing glass, currently designated as hazardous waste and presenting a major problem to the global recycling industry. It is estimated that globally, at least 1.9 billion screens using CRT glass are still in use. By incorporating CRT glass into the newly-developed material, the lead content is safely encapsulated, thereby allowing CRT glass to be re-classified as a safe raw material.

Waste Tableware Cast. Credit: David Binns
Waste tableware cast. Credit: David Binns

Follow-on Funding from the AHRC in 2013 allowed Binns and Bremner to pilot a commercialisation model of the product and establish Alusid Ltd in 2014. With the support of the grant, the pair partnered with IP Frontier to secure £260,000 in venture capital funding to set up the proof-of-concept manufacturing plant. Working in partnership with Recycling Lives, a commercial recycling company, they are offering employment and training opportunities to three to four apprentices through the Pathway to Independence Scheme with a view to teaching them transferable skills and, potentially, to hiring them as full-time employees as the business grows.

An independent assessment of potential indirect and induced impacts by Monitor Deloitte estimates that the total GVA (Gross-Value-Added) supported by the business could be approximately £290,000 per annum at the UK level.*

This case study was featured in the 2014/15 AHRC impact report.

For more information visit the Project webpage

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