Can Clay manufactures long lasting vitrified clay pipe & structural materials to world class standards for the construction and utility industry, Our quality and high performance designs are illustrated by successful projects in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
Can Clay's makes products that will last generations. We make our products by extruding clay mixtures under extremely high pressures in a high vacuum process. The extruded products are then fired in kilns to temperatures of 2,000 degrees producing a strong rigid material.
Our products are environmentally friendly and are energy efficient. Vitrified clay products have an exceptionally long life, reducing the costs for and the environmental impact of continuing periodic replacements. The waste of precious natural resources is thereby reduced.
The compressive strengths withstand 10,875 pounds per square inch (75 N/mm2). Vitrified clay is also chemically inert and provides centuries of service in corrosive conditions.
In 1906 Henry Clemens founded the Cannelton Sewer Pipe Company in Cannelton, Indiana, mining clay and coal from the hill east of Eighth Street. The clays were crushed and ground to a fine size then mixed with water in a pug mill and extruded. The coal was used to fire the extruded clay in early beehive type kilns to temperatures of 2000 degrees, creating vitrified clay.
Location of the manufacturing operations in Cannelton resulted from the efficiencies of being very close to the source of the raw materials. These early mines used hand mining and horse drawn carts to haul the coal and clay directly to the plant. The plant is located next to the Ohio River and is lower than the layers mined at that time, making it even more convenient for the horse drawn carts.
During the 1950s the mining techniques changed with the advent of larger surface mining equipment. The clays were mined from the same geological seams as before, but now in Hancock County, Kentucky where the lesser overburden above the clay allowed for more efficiency.
Natural gas also gradually replaced coal as the fuel source for the kilns.
In 1968 Cannelton Sewer Pipe Company was purchased by an industrial conglomerate, Harsco Corporation, and operated as Can-Tex Industries. The operations were expanded with new periodic beehive kilns and a large continuous tunnel kiln. During the 1970s the employment exceeded 250 persons.
In 1982, Harsco Corporation decided to sell the company. an economic mainstay for Cannelton. By this time there were only 20 employees left in operations. Unemployment in Perry County was at a disappointing 18 %.
Hubert R. Bruce, a retired Tell City industrialist, purchased the company. His experience in construction and mining provided the confidence to start in another new industry at an age of 67. The purchased resulted in maintaining the local tax base and saving Canneltons largest employer.
Under his leadership innovations were allowed to develop. The plant management developed a unique mechanism allowing the primary fuel source to be changed to wood dust from the more expensive natural gas.
With this and other cost effective change, Can-Clay Corporation was able to cut manufacturing costs and build its business through out the eastern United States and to participate in foreign markets. By the late 1990s Can Clay had shipped vitrified clay pipe from Cannelton, Indiana to countries on five continents.
Countries such as Britain, Brunei, Barbados, Germany, Egypt, Hong Kong and Singapore have benefited from the long life of Canneltons best known product.