Metallurgic, mining and glass scraps are transformed by a patented production process into Vytreum, a material used for outdoor flooring with characteristics comparable to current ceramic and concrete products without the use of hydraulic binders, adhesives, water or fossil derivatives. Pigments to color the mix or the surface layer of the product can be added to enhance the aesthetics.

“We currently have Vytreum in production, in the outdoor paving version in the form of self-locking blocks, the common cobblestones, and perforated slabs,” Désirée Farletti, co-founder of RECO2, explains to Renewable Matter. “The patented technology is based on a type of chemical activation that allows us to reduce CO₂ emissions into the atmosphere and energy consumption of traditional ceramic and concrete-based processes by more than 90 percent. In addition, when it reaches the end of its life, we recover Vytreum to put it back into our production process and reuse it.”

The manufacturing process

Upon arrival, the waste material is discharged into a hopper and then processed and mixed as a semi-wet dough before moving on to the next stage. The mixing, in which the RECO2 activating solution is used, is followed by pressing, in which the mixed dough passes into continuous demoulding machines where vibrocompaction takes place. This is a combined industrial process of vibration and pressure to impart the required strength and durability characteristics. The finished product is then released, which can be single-layer or double-layer.

Finally, with the 4- to 12-hour aging phase, the mixture develops reactions and begins to acquire strength properties. Accelerated steam aging systems can be used without affecting product reactions and properties. For every 100 square meters of Vytreum flooring, 8,000 kilograms of recycled raw materials are used.

Reduced risk of flooding and impermeability

Vytreum floors are versatile and durable, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and feature a wide range of shapes, colors and finishes that can be customized to suit the needs of different projects. By varying the mix of materials, in fact, Vytreum can feature either high permeability, allowing rainwater to drain away and reducing the risk of flooding, or very low absorption, similar therefore to ceramics, without, however, requiring the high firing temperatures typical of this material.

As part of the Anti-social car project, Frosinone's municipal villa is hosting the first public installation of RECO2. Meanwhile, in early March 2024, the first Vytreum cobblestone was laid inside the Gazometro in Rome.