Refractories play a key role in all high temperature applications and cover all the strategic industries such as steel, cement, glass, petrochemicals, energy plants etc. The understanding of their mechanical, thermal, chemical and functional properties as controlled by their structure at nano-, micro- and macro- levels followed by chemical and physical interactions at interfaces/ surfaces is an unlimited tool for continuous development and optimisation.
Today the price explosion of raw materials as well as environmental related restrictions challenges the refractory companies for a continuous development of innovative approaches in material design, material processing and product functionality. Their performance as well as their competitiveness and especially their sustainability are directly interlinked with the availability of industrial oriented well educated young engineers by understanding the refractory materials as multifunctional advanced ceramic components.
The focused work of different scientific disciplines under the aspect of applicability is of a great importance to attract young scientists and for innovation in this industrial sector. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has triggered a Priority Programme SPP 1418 for the next 6 years for applicable basic research in the refractory area by bridging different material disciplines and understanding the refractory materials as multifunctional, active, advanced ceramic components. Main targets are lower emissions at high temperature applications due to the impact of refractory innovations, development of improved thermal shocked oxide materials and designs as well as functionality in the application area of steel metallurgy and energy sector.