by Paul Goraczko, Think Green Correspondent
Montgomery County Community College‘s Ceramics Department recently revamped the way its reduction kiln is fired.
The project, entitled the “Cone 6 Transition Project,” is part of an effort to support the College’s commitment to sustainability.
The project was piloted by Dr. Aaron Shatzman, Dean of Social Sciences (who was serving as Interim Dean of Arts & Humanities at the time); Frank Short, Professor/Coordinator of Fine Arts; and Michael Connelly, Assistant Professor of Ceramics.
Previously, students’ ceramics projects were bisque-fired in an electric kiln and then glaze-fired in a natural gas-fired reduction kiln at Cone 10 (2360 degrees).
The transition has lowered the overall kiln firing temperature from Cone 10 to Cone 6 (2192 degrees).
The 168-degree difference between the two firing temperatures may not sound like a huge difference, but reducing the temperature at which the kiln is fired will have some green friendly effects.
“Although change is hard,” Connelly said,” the ceramics program should focus on the benefits of firing mid-range reduction.”
The change will save time and fuel, reduce the College’s carbon footprint, and lower costs.
Heating a kiln to Cone 10 can take anywhere from 10-12 hours, while Cone 6 takes only 8-10 hours. This translates not only to a 30% fuel savings, but also to savings in staffing, as each firing has to be overseen by a member of the College’s staff.
Reducing the firing temperature also adds longevity to the kiln by reducing the wear and tear. This translates to savings in the long term, because it will decrease the likelihood of having to replace the kiln prematurely.
Connelly admits that “ceramics is not the greenest of art forms,” but the Cone 6 Transition Project is just one way the department is helping the College to go green.