Technical ceramics are being widely employed in the electric power, medical and engineering industries because of their thermal and mechanical properties, as well as their high resistance qualities. The manufacture of technical ceramic components involves complex processes, including milling and stirring of raw materials in aqueous solutions, spray drying and dry pressing. In general, the spray-dried powders exhibit an important degree of variability in their performance when subjected to dry-pressing, which affects the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Commercial additives, such as deflocculants, biocides, antifoam agents, binders, lubricants and plasticizers are thus applied to ceramic slips. Several bacterial and fungal species naturally occurring in ceramic raw materials, such as Sphingomonas, Aspergillus and Aureobasidium, are known to produce exopolysaccharides. These extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) may confer unique and potentially interesting properties on ceramic slips, including viscosity control, gelation, and flocculation. In this study, the microbial communities present in clay raw materials were identified by both culture methods and DNA-based analyses to select potential EPS producers based on the scientific literature for further assays based on the use of EPS for enhancing the performance of technical ceramics. Potential exopolysaccharide producers were identified in all samples, such as Sphingomonas sp., Pseudomonas xanthomarina, P. stutzeri, P. koreensis, Acinetobacter lwoffi, Bacillus altitudinis and Micrococcus luteus, among bacteria. Five fungi (Penicillium citrinum, Aspergillus niger, Fusarium oxysporum, Acremonium persicinum and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa) were also identified as potential EPS producers. © 2019, MDPI AG. All rights reserved.
Year of publication: 2019