Refractories are heat-resistant materials that constitute the linings for high-temperature furnaces and reactors and other processing units. They play a triple role of providing mechanical
strength, protection against corrosion and thermal insulation. They need to resist all types of stresses (mechanical, thermal and chemical) encountered at high level temperatures, such as fusion,
erosion, creep deformation, corrosion and thermal shock. Refractories are materials essential for all production processes which are performed at elevated temperatures e. g. iron and steelmaking,
cement production, glass, ceramics, nonferrous metals, petrochemical processing power production and waste incineration; wherever high temperatures are needed for production purposes. Without
refractory products there would be no cars, no planes, no trains, no petrochemical products or electricity. They have high economical importance and a key function for the industry in Europe.
The most significant consumers are large scale industry, especially the steel industry, mainstay of the European industry. However, more than 70% of the refractory producers are
SMEs. The refractory industry employs more than 20.000 people over Europe, with sales of more than 3 billion Euros and a total production of 4 million tons per year. To promote and
defend their interests, most of the refractory producers are grouped together in cluster or/and are members of national associations, themselves united at the European level under the
umbrella of the PRE (European Refractories Producers Federation, part of Cerame-Unie (CU) the European Ceramic Industry Association).
Classification of refractory materials is based on specific properties and/or characteristics, e.g. state
upon delivery or porosity of the material. The raw materials used as well as manufacturing and application aspects are further factors forming a basis for classification. A relevant classification,
as regards to the testing standards of the refractory products, generally takes into account the following properties and characteristics:
The European refractory industry is aware of around 65 standards to ensure the classification and characterisation of refractory products. This project focuses
on the testing standards.