RCA Designers : De la Red Mud à la céramique

Red mud, consisting of bauxite residues, is a toxic sludge mass produced by the aluminum industry. To bring a lasting solution to this disproportionate pollution, the Royal College of Art's designers turn this material into a high-quality ceramic pottery.

A kilogram of aluminum produces as much red mud mass as it can be converted into alumina, a material that goes into the design of electronic objects. The consumption of such a polluting resource should not be taken lightly, especially as it composes most of our daily gadgets. This red mud which occupies immense fields of deposit in full nature, pushed the designers of the Royal College of Art to bring an ingenious solution to a problem of weight. How to turn an industrial waste into an object for productive use?


After a year of testing and testing, a group of four students, Guillermo Whittembury, Joris Olde Rikkert, Kevin Rouff and Paco Bockelmann, managed to find a method suitable for the metamorphosis of red mud into a paste that looks like to ceramics. They team up with scientists at Imperial College London and ceramists to exploit the potential of the geopolymer and exploit a standard slip casting process to treat fine particles.
After extracting red mud from a refinery in the south of France, the young designers developed their own clay body which they later transformed into a series of tableware inspired by the aesthetic forms of the industrial era. , such as factory chimneys. With finesse and warmth, they divert a raw material into a fragile ceramic to express the contrast between two productions, one harmful, the other depolluting.

"By exploiting the versatility of red mud, we want to show that the 164 million tons of waste produced each year is actually a material with huge potential, just waiting to be used. " Fast Company students.

The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of the degradation caused by the refinement processes of the current materials on the environment.
If the design is effective, their biggest concern at the moment is to make their production safe for food consumption, given the toxic nature of the raw material.
Students are currently looking for partner companies for the production and marketing of their collection.

A promising solution that we are looking forward to seeing!

To learn more, visit the Royal College Art website

Photographs: Royal College Art

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