Nanotechnology: A breakthrough for ceramic industry

Saturday, 22 January 2011 00:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The ceramic industry is poised to becoming a front liner in exports by adopting changes in developing a paradigm for Sri Lanka through nanotechnology.

Through the combination of a resources and knowledge based economy the ceramics industry is geared for a developmental paradigm for Sri Lanka with the establishment of the university, industry and the state.

By Sunimalee Dias

Moratuwa University’s Chemical and Process Engineering Department Head Prof. Ajith de Alwis made these observations when delivering the keynote address on “Sri Lanka Ceramics in the New Millennium – Positioning through Nanotechnology” at the inauguration of the Ceramic Symposium held at the Taj yesterday evening in Colombo.

The ceramic symposium was held with participants from various other countries as well in a bid to engage all stakeholders to engage in the discussion of the industry’s challenges and the way forward based on the theme “Breaking through Traditions.”

Sri Lanka had engaged itself in the field of nanotechnology in 2006, only five years after the US started out with the support of the government.

Prof. de Alwis observed that the use of nanotechnology was the move towards the fifth industrial revolution.

The ceramics industry was asked to take on the new modifications required in the process of the manufacture of the new products with the new technology thereby creating more value additions as well.

Manufacturing he said was likely to face new times and in the future the industry would have to engage in a bottom up approach that allows you do to what you want.

With nanotechnology identified to perform various functions the ceramics industry was asked to correctly translate this to the consumers’ benefit.

“If we are to break through traditions we must embrace innovations,” Prof. de Alwis said adding that it was imperative not to say anything is impossible in science.

In this respect, he pointed out the various sectors through which nanotechnology in ceramics can be used from electrical to cosmetics.

A material supply chain, a ceramic road map, development and deployment and the necessary research and development were prerequisites for the industry, he asserted.

The industry that is faced with a vast number of challenges in the current working environment was told to be engaged in continuous development and become part of the outsourcing space. This was highlighted by the Ceramic Committee Symposium 2011 Technical Committee Chairman Dr. Bandula Perera speaking on the topic of “Challenges faced by the Ceramic Industry and the Way Forward.” Aiming at improving the country’s ceramic sector’s efficiency and stating that they needed to maintain high quality, he also said that it was a question of getting together and working for each other’s benefit without going alone.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) has identified key action areas in its five year strategic plan that has developed a mechanism to finance technological improvements in the ceramic industry, Guest speaker Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said.

Chief Guest at the occasion Scientific Affairs Senior Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana observed “Today there is only 1.5% of hi-tech value addition for Sri Lanka’s exports while the bulk of the exports such as garments and ceramics have low value addition.”

He noted that the fact that there was little value addition in the country’s exports was a sad affair.

In this respect other Asian nations had improved figures in terms of value addition with Thai at 27%, Malaysia and Singapore at over 50% and Korea at over 70%.

The minister pointed out that today the ceramics industry can make use of some of the advanced technology for the improvement of its manufacturing processes.

Sri Lanka Ceramics Council President Dayasiri Warnakulasuriya observed that the industry had shown resilience in the wake of the recent global and domestic challenges.

He however pointed out that today the industry was fast picking up on the orders; and in this respect it should continue to maintain the competition in the market.