WORLD PREMIERE: LAUFEN HAS PIONEERED THE FIRST CO2-FREE TUNNEL KILN
Roca Group and LAUFEN have launched the world’s first electric CO2-free tunnel kiln at Austrian location in Gmunden.
The new technology is a game changer, because with it – at the heart of Europe – ceramic production becomes climate-neutral. LAUFEN developed the kiln from the ground up with the German kiln construction specialist Keramischer Ofenbau. The Roca Group – the world’s largest sanitary supplier and LAUFEN’s parent company – launched the kiln as a pilot project with an impact on the entire industry.
“There were no electric kilns available on an industrial level. So we knew that if we wanted to be successful, we’d need to develop them ourselves. The innovation centre for the entire LAUFEN Group is based here in Gmunden. We knew that there was no better place to develop the kiln than here.”
Christian Schäfer, Managing Director LAUFEN Austria AG
At the Gmunden plant, LAUFEN produces washbasins, toilets and bidets with especially high standards in terms of design and quality. The complex workpieces, often made of thin-walled Saphirkeramik, are ideal for putting the technology’s performance to the test under challenging production conditions.
Two thirds less energy – 5,000 tons less CO2
The Roca Group currently has approx. 100 gas-fired tunnel kilns in operation on a worldwide scale, a huge potential for future CO2 savings. Compared to the previous gas-fired kiln, the emissions are decreased by around 5,000 tons of CO2 per year at the Gmunden site alone.
The new technology with electricity only requires a third of the original amount of energy for the same firing performance. Thanks to high-performance photovoltaic systems on the roof and the Gmunden site, the amount of energy required for the kiln is entirely self-generated. In fact, up to four times as much energy is produced, meaning that the surplus amount is able to supply the energy demand of the entire site, thereby making the production as a whole CO2-neutral.
Four years of development
After two years of conception, calculations and tests, and another two years for implementation and construction, the kiln now joins the network. It has already fully taken over production at the Austrian site and replaces the gas-fired kiln, which was shut down at the beginning of 2024 and is now being dismantled and recycled.
First zero-carbon production plant
The expansion of the PV plants is then completed, which means that in 2024 Gmunden will be the world’s first net-zero production site for sanitary ceramics. A milestone for the branch, too, as Albert Magrans, CEO of the Roca Group, points out:
“Our long-term goal is to fully decarbonise our business and we’re continuously working on solutions to achieve this goal. This European-wide partnership with Keramischer Ofenbau and our LAUFEN brand helps us reach the net-zero standard. It’s also an important step for the branch as a whole, which with significant CO2 savings can make a positive contribution to the planet.”