Refractories (ceramics, metals, composites) are used at temperatures exceeding 600° Celsius. They are irreplaceable for today's society and a livable environment. Without them, electricity generation or cell phone technology would be just as impossible as the production of metals, cement, ceramics, glass, or the design of processes in the chemical industry. The goals of CO2 reduction, the use of hydrogen in metallurgical processes, or the use of oxygen in the cement industry are closely linked to developments in the field of these high-temperature materials. Their macro-and micro design opens up a broad innovation potential for new process technologies and new product qualities under challenging economic and ecological boundary conditions.
The research and development of new types of refractory materials for higher-performance components with long service life and improved properties, for example in the field of high-temperature applications, generate a central contribution to more sustainability - and thus to more environmental protection. From an economic point of view, these new developments lead to cost savings and ensure that Germany can maintain its innovative position at the international level in the future.
To achieve this goal, research must focus on the entire range of topics, from raw materials to processing and high-temperature use to deconstruction, including recycling, whereby each area should be accompanied in each case by the associated analytical, testing, and modeling issues.
The members of the joint committee come from research and industry, with the entire value chain represented by raw material suppliers, refractory manufacturers, and end-users. The connection to professional associations and societies such as the Steel Institute VDEh, the European Centre for Refractories (ECREF), the German Institute for Refractories and Ceramics (DIFK), the Association Meeting of Refractories Experts Freiberg e.V. (MORE) or the Federation for International Refractory Research and Education (FIRE) illustrates this bandwidth.
Currently, research is mainly concerned with sustainability, energy efficiency, the ability of refractory materials to reduce CO2, and the use of H2 in metallurgical processes. Furthermore, the focus is on questions of raw material availability and raw material quality, but also on environmentally friendly
binders for refractory applications - areas of great complexity and a large number of aspects to be taken into account. New 3D technologies or hybrid processes of coarse-grained material systems or the combination with fine-grained 3D processes unfold new possibilities. Research in Germany is taking up these challenges, as is evident from the establishment of numerous basic research projects.
For current and future innovations, however, it is also important to harmonize basic research with the application even more closely than before to transfer findings into practice as quickly as possible. An important approach to this is so-called transfer projects, which are funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), for example.
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