Ashes to … environmental protection

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Here in the SCHOTT CERAN® blog we regularly present innovative materials with amazing properties. Today we are going to show you an overglaze for stoneware and porcelain which may soon make an important contribution to environmental protection.

Overglazing enhances the surface of ceramic products. It lends them a glossy appearance with an appealing color while protecting them from moisture. In the project “Blooming Ground” by French student Anne Fischer this glazing serves a second purpose: Fischer uses the glazing in a roundabout way for decontamination of soil that has been polluted with, for instance, heavy metals from abandoned mines.

The idea involves the many plants which absorb toxins and heavy metals from soil, which they then store in their biomass. If the plants are harvested and burned, the toxins and heavy metals remain behind in the ashes. These ashes can be processed in various ways and be reused as a base for glazing.

On her website Anne Fischer gives an overview of polluted soils in France and of different plants and their various capabilities to clean soils. Two examples: Alpine pennycress (Noccaea caerulescens) absorbs toxic zinc from the soil and stores it in its tissue. Common kidneyvetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), in addition to zinc and lead, also pulls cadmium from soil.

Decontamination of polluted soils is complex and costly. Anne Fischer’s project came up with a comparably economical option for solving this problem. She wants to encourage industrial producers to take a further step toward sustainability. She is still seeking a partner to help her implement her ideas. We wish her luck in her quest!

Find more information on the project here.

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