According to a press release dated 28. November 2023, Roca Group, the world leader in the design, production, and commercialisation of bathroom furnishings, has invested in the world’s first electric tunnel kiln for sanitaryware at its Laufen plant in Gmunden (Austria). The site, which already uses electricity from renewable sources, is set to become the world‘s first CO2-free production facility for sanitary products this year. To electrify production, Roca worked together with Keramischer OFENBAJ, the technology leader in ceramic stove construction. The development time was four years.
The initial production results of the new kiln offer enormous potential for the entire industry, according to both companies. This new technology is not only applicable to the production of sanitary ceramics, but can also be used in other ceramic areas such as construction and technical ceramics or tableware. This means that the complete decarbonisation of ceramic production is not only theoretically possible, but also realistic and economically feasible.
When asked by ZI, Cora Alten, responsible for marketing and communication at Keramischer OFENBAU, explained: „Although this specific system is optimised for sanitary ceramics, our concept can also be implemented for building ceramics. By making a few adjustments to the technology, it is therefore also possible to fire vertically perforated bricks, roof tiles, clinker bricks, stoneware pipes, etc. with efficient electric heating. As building ceramics products are usually fired at lower temperatures than sanitary ceramics, product-specific optimisations of the kiln concept are required, but we are happy to implement these for our customers.“
Strategic European partnership
Through Roca Group Ventures, Roca has acquired a majority stake in Keramischer OFENBAU Holding GmbH, which owns Keramischer OFENBAU GmbH, and is investing in the company’s ability to innovate for the benefit of the entire ceramics industry.
The Group is also committed to supporting the company to further develop, implement, and market this cutting-edge technology that will shape the future of the industry.
While both businesses will remain fully independent, this long-term collaboration will strengthen the innovation capabilities of both companies towards their respective decarbonisation goals with a common goal: the sustainable ceramics industry of the future.
Albert Magrans, CEO at Roca Group, said: “We have a long-term goal to decarbonise our operations and we have been working hard to find solutions that will help us achieve this. This new pan-European partnership not only helps us on our way to net-zero but is also a clear step forward for the industry as a whole”.
Günter Halex, Chairman of the Advisory Board at Keramischer OFENBAU added: “This electric kiln proves once again, that our advanced technologies are fit to decarbonise even the CO2-intensive ceramics industry. Our electrically heated kilns provide our customers with increasing independence from the energy market and allow for sustainable and economical production today and in the decades ahead. This groundbreaking and innovative project shows that our technology can maintain maximum quality in ceramic products while making a positive contribution to our planet”.