Campus universitario Riu Sec
12006 Castellón de la Plana Castellón
The Ceramic Industry Research Association (ITC-AICE) is a Private non-profit Research Institute recognized by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness as Technology Centre. ITC-AICE is committed to providing solid support for ceramic sector in the defence and enhancement of their strategic positioning in the current global context, principally through innovation-enabling research and development actions, but also through whatever activities might serve to foster the competitiveness and growth of the sector, always based on sustainability criteria and commitment to societal well-being.
In 1969 ITC-AICE concerted an agreement with the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón in response to the needs of companies from the Spanish ceramic cluster, resulting in the Institute for Ceramic Technology (ITC). During its more than 50-year history, this agreement has articulated a successful university–business cooperation system that has borne its fruits, witness the significant development of the Spanish ceramic tile manufacturing industry.
The competence attained through ITC-AICE’s wide-ranging research activity enables to extend its field of action to other types of processes and materials. Particularly ITC-AICE works in the field of ceramic processing, water management, and energy efficiency, and industry’s environmental impact minimization (innovative waste recovery solutions, wastewater treatment and emissions reduction), as well as in the functionalisation of ceramic surfaces and in the achievement of new technical performance and aesthetic features of products related to the habitat hyper-sector and other industries, such as high-tech tools advanced ceramics, automotive or petrochemical sectors. Its activities include products and processes improvement, residues and greenhouse pollutants reduction, control systems development, energy saving plans, etc.
From the outset, as technology partner of the ceramic sector, ITC-AICE has undertaken several R&D activities in the ceramic and related industries, through projects funded by public bodies and by ceramic sector companies.
ITC-AICE is member of the following European networks:
- LightCoce - Open Innovation Test Bed for lightweight ceramics and concrete materials https://www.lightcoce-oitb.eu/en/normal/home
- A.SPIRE - European Sustainable Industry Association https://www.spire2030.eu/
- Water Europe - European technology platform for water https://watereurope.eu/
- EUMAT - European tecgnology platform for materials www.eumat.eu
- EARTO - European network of technology centre https://www.earto.eu/
- EIP Raw Materials - https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/eip_en
- Climate KiC - https://www.climate-kic.org
Pilot plant production of ceramic floor tiles
ITC-AICE has a Pilot Plant fitted with the necessary equipment to run the ceramic manufacturing process stages on a semi-industrial scale.
This facility, which currently has 600 m2, is at the disposal of companies for carrying out pilot-scale trials designed to improve the manufacturing process. It allows to perform relevant tests to check the correct behaviour of the product developed in the laboratory on their way to the industrial sector.
The objective of these tests is to improve the manufacturing process and prevent problems and risks that may arise in the same. Thus, the use of use the pilot plant helps the companies to avoid expensive industrial tests.
Some of ITC-AICE most relevant technical equipment for materials characterisation are listed below:
- Physical characterisation: particle size distribution (1000 microns - 100 nm), true density, open porosity, pore size distribution by means of mercury porosimetry, specific surface area by means of nitrogen adsorption (BET method), water vapour adsorption isotherms and heats of adsorption, methylene blue index and oil adsorption tests.
- Mineralogical characterisation: Determination and quantification of crystal structures in materials, quantification of environmental silica, synthetic studies of processes using the high temperature technique and microdiffraction tests.
- Chemical analysis: Determination of the majority of the elements of the periodic table (solid samples, small size samples and liquid samples), determination of metallic elements in liquid samples, structural characterization of organic samples.
- Microstructural characterisation: materials observation by FEG-ESEM at extremely high magnification (up to 500000x) with a resolution up to 2nm, combined with the ability to generate localised chemical information (EDX), surface analysis by X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) giving information on the surface chemical composition and bond structure of materials.
- Thermal analysis: thermogravimetry (TG), differential thermal analysis (DTA), determination of specific heat (Cp), testing differential scanning calorimetry (DSC curve), calculation of higher and lower heating value (HHV and LHV), analysis of volatile components (TGA-EGA), thermal expansion, heat of reaction, enamel-substrate coupling studies, melting experiments and shrinkage-temperature curve using image analysis.
- Tribological, mechanical and surface properties: wear resistance, abrasion test, scratch resistance, microhardness and toughness measurement, nanoindentation, determination of the surface roughness.
Standardisation and certification facilities:
ITC-AICE has full capacity and equipment for ceramic tile and rooftile standardisation through UNE-EN 14411and UNE-EN 13004.
- Advice and technical audit
- Process optimisation and control
- Equipment and machine design
- Industrial process simulation
- Implementation of industry 4.0
Materials and products
- Developement of ceramic materials and additives
- Material simulation for product development and optimization
- Development of inkjet inks
- Photocatalytic material application
- Surface functionalization
- Market study
- Technology watch
- Competitive intelligence
- Ceramic product management
- Focus ceramic group
- Digital marketing
- Design thinking
Analysis and testing
- Chemical analysis
- Physical and structural analysis
- Microscopy and superficial analysis
- Ceramic finished product characterization and certification
- Bioclimatic and energy-efficient solutions
- New systems evaluation and monitoring
- New architectural applications
- Air quality and industrial emission control
- optimization of energy efficiency
- Resource efficiency and waste reduction (including industrial symbiosis opportunity)
- Water management
- Environmental and Energy audits
Education and training
Lifelong-learning formation on a wide variety of subjects (Ceramic Technology, Quality, Innovation, Design and Architecture, Trends, etc.), including the following types of courses:
- Tailor-made training for ceramics companies (on-site or virtual)
- Open courses (at ITC-AICE facilities or virtual) for active workers, students and unemployed workers.
Industrial water management
Standardisation and certification