In partnership with the University of Bologna’s Industrial Engineering Department, Technosilos has developed and patented a dense phase pneumatic conveying system for the atomized ceramic slip. The system is able to both preserve the physical properties required by the ceramic industry and prevent dispersion of health-damaging free crystalline silica.

Atomized slip: what it is and associated health risks

Atomized slip is the primary raw material used in ceramic manufacturing. This product is currently handled with belt conveyors that maintain its physical integrity, however, due to the nature of these belt conveyors,  dispersion of free crystalline silica cannot be avoided.

The carcinogenic effects from exposure to respirable crystalline silica in the work environment have been a topic of debate for more than twenty years. Since 1997 and with an important update in 2012 (monograph C100), the substance has been classified by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as carcinogenic to humans. For the first time, the IARC, an agency established by the UN to determine the substances that are carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic to humans, identified environmental exposure to the substance as the source of risk, so defining the exposure times and maximum concentrations to prevent the onset of serious health problems in workers.

A good reference is provided by the ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists). The ACGIH is accepted worldwide as an influential body and, among other things, sets out occupational exposure limits for a large number of chemical, physical and biological agents. With reference to free crystalline silica and in line with the IARC, the ACGIH classified occupational exposure as a risk source for carcinogenic effects in workers, defining a TLV (Threshold Limit Value) of 0.025 mg/m3. Complying with this value is very difficult because it is at the limit of instrument detection and below the values set out by international standards now in effect or pending approval. Since there are no concrete references on the occupational exposure limits that must be complied with, the ACGIH standard is voluntarily adopted in many labour contracts and should not be ignored.

Until now, pneumatic conveying could not be used for atomized slip due to transport causing the product’s physical properties to degrade.

Our innovative technology developed changes all that: a groundbreaking solution for this specific type of application and the only one capable of complying with the strictest industry standards including EU 2017/2398 once implemented in Italy and Emilia Romagna Region.