Research in Glass Manufacturing Welcome in Industry, but Could be Distractor
April 19, 2012

A group of scientists that includes researchers from Saint-Gobain in France have been studying glass manufacturing and say they might have discovered a way to produce high-quality glass at lower temperatures, according to a recent news report.

The scientists used X-ray microtomography on a mixture of two-thirds silica sand and one-third of sodium and calcium carbonate to observe in real time the changes in shape and positions of the elements, as they reacted chemically and transformed into molten glass.

Industry professionals in North America have varied responses to the research.

"Our glass research team has been discussing the fundamental findings of this research since it was first reported in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society earlier this year," says Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management at Guardian Industries in Auburn Hills, Mich. "Research such as this being conducted in France is important as a contribution to the fundamental understanding of glass manufacturing. Increased understanding in this area may contribute to energy reduction activities in glass manufacturing. And that's a win-win."

Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America in Topeka, Kan., however, offered a slightly different opinion.

"While we would all like to use less energy, solutions such as those described obscure what is most needed today," Yanek says. "In North America, the focus should be on facilitating the success of existing flat glass manufacturers."

Glass is a critical component in energy-efficient commercial construction, according to Yanek. "For the foreseeable future, flat glass will have to be manufactured the same way it has been for decades," he says. "Glass deserves more credit for its energy-efficient enhancing characteristics once part of a building envelope, not to mention the quality of life benefits that daylighting delivers.

"So, by all means the study futuristic glass manufacturing processes should continue, but to policymakers at all levels, I say focus on the flat glass manufacturing industry that you already have and get to work on facilitating its success," Yanek concludes.

Officials from Saint-Gobain had not yet responded to requests for comment at press time.

What do you think about this research? Is it beneficial for the industry? Please email smukerji@glass.com.

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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