A team of Innovation Design Engineering students at Imperial College in London has transformed an industrial waste material called Red Mud entirely into beautiful as well as stylish ceramic tableware pieces. These wares are decorated with a range of glazes and clay, made from red mud. Look exactly like terra-cotta, the series of pots proved to be used as a striking alternative for clay or even concrete products.
Red mud is a by-product produced when raw aluminium ore is refined into alumina. During the refining process, aluminium leaves a toxic red sludge that generally gets discarded by dumping into massive disposal pits. These pits are so large that these can be easily visible from space. According to research, around 165 million tons of red mud is dumped by manufacturers.
RCA engineering students Guillermo Whittembury, Luis Paco Böckelmann, Kevin Rouff and Joris Olde-Rikkert innovatively used this sludge by transforming it into stunning ceramic plates, vases and bowls. They did hundreds of tests before creating this. The pieces now will undergo for food safety and non-toxicity certification process.
RCA designers worked closely with ceramicists and material scientists to analyse the real strength of the materials as both a GeoPolymer building material and as a ceramic. They collected the sludge material from an alumina refinery in the South of France. However, the material went through several tests before converting it into functional tableware items. The abundance of metal oxides in red mud also makes it perfect for creating glazes.
The project not only aware us about the environmentally destructive production of toxic material in aluminium refining process but also show us how an industrial waste material could have a creative use.
Although RCA designers are not first who disclosed the value in industrial metal waste. Before that, Agne Kucerenkaite, a Lithuanian designer made a myriad of vibrant ceramics from industrial waste.
Photo Credit: Royal College of Art