The quest for new functional applications of environmentally friendly ceramic tiles in the context of a circular economy

Prof. Juan Bautista Carda Castelló, Universitat Jaume I, Spain

Prof. Juan Bautista Carda Castelló,
Universitat Jaume I, Spain

The Spanish industry of ceramic tiles manufacturing is mainly concentrated in Castelló, where there are more than 250 ceramic factories. Most of them are small and medium-sized ceramics industries forming a ceramic cluster (more than 80% of the production of ceramic tiles is concentrated in Castelló regions). This cluster is divided in mineral extraction and ceramic paste preparation companies (spray-drying companies), ceramic additives factories (glues, deflocculants, dispersants, etc.), frit production plants (enamels, ceramic pigments and inks for Ink-Jet printing), ceramic machinery industry and finally, the floor and wall tiles industries.
The economic data of the last 5 years are shown in Table I as indicated by the ASCER employers [1].
Table I. Economic data on the production and sales of the ceramic tile industry in Spain of the last 5 years.

Years 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Production1 420 425 440 492 530
National market sales2 557 574 643 746 824
Exportation2 2240 2328 2452 2570 2686
Total sales2 2793 2902 3095 3316 3510

               1Millions of m2                               2Millions of €

These data are indicating a strong growth in the production of ceramic tiles after the economic crisis suffered from the year 2007. The crisis hit very hard in the construction sector, which is closely linked to the ceramic tiles production. Before the crisis, the production of ceramic tiles reached exceed 600 million m2. Spain was among the first world producers, where the export of its products barely exceeded 50% of its volume and until that date, the unemployment of labor in those regions of Castelló.
As it can be seen from the economic data in Table I, the ceramic sector has been able to readjust and transform itself towards the new demands of technological, environmental and energy savings, which are being considered nowadays. For that reason, Spanish ceramic market is today the leading ceramic producer in the European Union, and has remained among the main world producers with an exportation volume of 76.5%, value based on Table I. All these, leads to 15600 direct jobs and more than 7000 indirect jobs [1].
Universitat Jaume I, a public university which was created in 1991, is located in the ceramic cluster with the clear intention to improve the socioeconomic sector of Castellón, where the ceramic industry has an important relevance [2].
The Solid State Chemistry Group is a multidisciplinary research group which was founded at the same time of the creation of the Universitat Jaume I. The research lines have been focused on the Materials Science and Technology research field, specifically in ceramic materials and their industry transfer. Since the year 2015, the research group has a strong collaboration with the Institute of Materials Science of Aragon, which is a mixture between the Higher Council for Scientific Research and the University of Zaragoza. This research group is focused on the ceramic materials processing using laser radiation treatments. This collaboration allows the creation of the Associated Unit named “Material Chemistry Processed by REM (Electromagnetic Radiation)”[3].
Thus, the research lines are focused on the search of new ceramic tiles functionalities through innovative ceramic processes such as sol-gel, solvothermal and hydrothermal synthesis, microwave treatments and laser treatments; development of new ceramic and glass-ceramic laminates through the introduction of waste, as the modern concept of the circular economy of the EU [4] and the technological demands of more automated 4.0 industry; development of new properties in ceramic tiles, such as bactericidal capacities, air-cleaning, thermal properties, development of large ceramic laminates and glass-ceramics from the waste generated both from the ceramic sector itself and from other industrial sectors, development of photovoltaic tiles which allows their architectural integration (BIPV), etc. [5-7].
Otherwise, in the year 2012 the “Cátedra de Innovación Cerámica Ciutat de Vila-real” was created through a collaboration agreement between the Universitat Jaume I and the City Council of Vila-real, declared as a city of Science and of Innovation and belonging to the network of Innovative cities of the Valencian Community [8]. The main aims of this institution are focused on developing research, training and promotion activities in the ceramic field, in order to increase the spirit of innovation in the local and regional economy [9]. One of the most important activities of the Cátedra de Innovación Cerámica is the creation of the first fair of dissemination and technology transfer of the Valencian Community, DESTACA fair [10]. This fair has been held in the city of Vila-real on a biennial basis since 2014 to the new edition in the last quarter of 2018.
In this fair, there is a common forum where companies are in contact with public and private research centers and innovation funding entities in order to do networking and be to be sessions. At the same time there are exhibitions and conferences of advanced research lines, discussed through the so-called discussion tables on pre-selected topics. There is also scientific and technological workshops for young people in order to promote scientific vocations. Since the year 2017 the fair DESTACA EN RUTA [11] is celebrated alternatively where the DESTACA Fair is not held. The objective of it is the organization of a DESTACA fair more reduced, together with an itinerant character throughout the Valencian Community. In this small fair they are exposed the research results of the main research groups of the Universities of the Valencian Community.

J. B. Carda1, A. Castelló1, E. Barrachina2, I. Calvet2, D. Fraga2 and T. Stoyanova2.
1Cátedra de Innovación Cerámica “Ciutat de Vila-real”. Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
2Research Group of Solid State Chemistry. Inorganic and Organic Chemistry Department. Universitat Jaume I. Castellón (Spain).

[1] Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Azulejos y Pavimentos Cerámicos, ASCER, Castellón (España). Consulted in webside (29/07/2018):
[2] Consulted in the institucional webside of the Universitat Jaume I (Spain):www.
[3] Consulted in the institucional webside of the Universidad de Zaragoza: (12/02/2015).
[4] ¿En qué consite la Economía Circular?. Consulted in webside:
[5] “Synthesis and characterization of ferrimagnetic glass-ceramic frit from waste” Isabel Gonzalez-Triviño, Mónica Benítez-Guerrero, Juan Bautista Carda Castelló, Belén Moreno, José Pascual-Cosp. International Journal of Applied Cermic Technology, 3 (775-782), 2018.
[6] “Developing CIGS solar cells on glass-ceramic substrates”, Diego Fraga Chiva, Ester Barrachina Albert, Ivan Calvet Roures, Teodora Stoyanova Lyubenova, Juan Bautista Carda Castelló. Materials Letters, 221 (104-106), 2018.
[7] “Ecologic ceramic substrates for CIGS solar cells”. Diego Fraga Chiva, Teodora Stoyanova Lyubenova, Rafael Francisco Martí Valls, Ivan Calvet Roures, Ester Barrachina Albert, Juan Bautista Carda Castelló. Ceramics International, 6-42 (7148-7154), 2016.
[8] Consulted in webside:
[9] Consulted in webside:
[10] Consulted in webside:
[11] Consulted in webside:


Juan Bautista Carda Castelló, BS Chemistry (1983), PhD in Chemistry (1990), Professor at Universitat Jaume I (1994-2010), Full Professor (2010 – present), Director of the Solid State Chemistry Group at the Department of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, and Director of Chair of Ceramic Innovation “Ciutat de Vila-real” since 2013 at Universitat Jaume I. He has received various training courses and developed several university services as coordinator, manager and teacher from 1992 to the present at Universitat Jaume I. He has been visiting in various foreign centres around the world. He is the author / co-author of several patents, some of which have been implemented in the industry. He has participated in several research projects at national and international levels and with public and private funding. Since 2006 has more than 70 publications in national and international journal. Since 2006 he also features more than 70 collaborations in international conferences and 80 national conferences. He has taught several courses and lectures at seminar, technical conferences and national and international scientific universities. He has participated in scientific and technical missions. He has directed seven doctoral theses from 2008 to the present, also several research and advanced degrees (DEA) and final degree projects through Tempus and Socrates Erasmus programs among others. He has participated in international networks of teachers. He is a member of various societies and associations of scientific and technical. It is also a member of the editorial board of several scientific and technical journals. He has been member of more than 20 PhD court theses since 2006 and member of competition courts repeatedly (10 since 2009). He has received several awards which include academic medal by Simon Bolivar University in Caracas (Venezuela), his appointment as Emeritus Professor at Chemical Technology and Metallurgy University of Sofia (Bulgaria), as Honorary Professor by Universidad Nacional de Colombia, awarded for his research career by the Social Council of Universitat Jaume I, appointed as Honorary Ambassador by Universitat Jaume I and also as Coordinator of the International Research and Development Plan for the Post-agreement in Colombia by the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló.

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