Volume 47, Issue 6 - June 2012

GlobalUpdate

Saint-Gobain to Purchase Outstanding Shares of Sage Electrochromics
Saint-Gobain has agreed to purchase all outstanding shares of Sage Electrochromics Inc., and will become the company’s sole owner upon completion of the transaction, according to a joint announcement by both companies.

Terms of the acquisition, which, at press time, was expected to be completed by the end of June, have not been released.

“The acquisition of Sage will give us an additional product range,” says Xavier Moser, general manager of GlassSolutions for Saint-Gobain. “We really believe in the product.”

Sage had been working with Saint-Gobain “as a strategic partner and as an investor” for nearly two years, according to John Van Dine, the founder and CEO of Sage.

“It’s a very smooth acquisition because we had been working with them and we’ve had strategic meetings on an ongoing basis,” Van Dine says. “We’re closely in communication so it’s quite a smooth transition. The organization here has a high regard for Saint-Gobain’s organization and people, so we don’t see any of those types of challenges that might happen with a different type of acquisition.”

With the acquisition, Van Dine said Saint-Gobain will be investing $90 million into the company. In addition, the acquisition will allow the company to complete its new plant in Faribault, Minn., in which Sage itself had already invested approximately $150 million.

“It’s highly automated, and really is a state-of-the-art facility,” says Van Dine. The plant is scheduled to begin production in January 2013 and is expected to produce 3.2 million square feet of electrochromic glass annually.

Van Dine says the acquisition is positive for both companies for several reasons as well. “It just made sense that at this point the company become completely owned by Saint-Gobain,” he says. “ … We’ve worked quite diligently over a long period of time and now we’re starting to see the adoption and interest and specification of this product gain some real momentum in the marketplace, not just in North America but also in the international market.”

Van Dine appears optimistic not only for Sage, but for the industry as a whole. “This is exciting for the industry,” he says. “We’ve been an industry of innovation, going back to the float line process, creating high-quality glass and delivering that to the construction industry. This is a continued technological evolvement and advancement for our industry.”

Glass Companies Join U.S.-India Venture
The U.S. Department of Energy has selected the three consortia that will make up the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center: Solar Energy, 2nd Generation Biofuels and Energy Efficiency of Buildings. Joining the consortia from within the industry are: Saint Gobain Corp./Sage Electrochromics of Faribault, Minn., as part of the U.S. team, and Asahi India Glass and Saint Gobain Corp. as part of the Indian team in the Energy Efficiency of Buildings consortium. This consortium will focus on the integration of information technology with building controls and physical systems for commercial and high-rise residential buildings.

“Asahi India Glass’ (AIG) participation in this research initiative will be mutually beneficial, in the sense that we will be able to add immense value to this group drawing from our experience in terms of handling glazing requirements for such projects in the country and also providing solutions to the client not just in terms of products but one that also includes processing, performance and right selection,” says Kenichi Oda of the corporate communications division of Asahi Glass Co. “AIG will be able to draw benefits from this association as we will be able to bring to the table the various hurdles, misconception and bottlenecks that cause the misuse of glass and take the help of this research center to find solutions for the same.”

AIG will provide suitable glass products and educate its clients to make sure they choose appropriate glass products and use those products properly so the energy efficiency of the building is not compromised, Oda says.

On the U.S. side, “We are always looking for opportunities in new geographic markets to expand and leverage our electrochromic technology as part of an integrated solution to help capture energy savings and optimize sustainability of the building envelope,” says Helen Sanders, vice president of technical business development at Sage.

Scientists Study Glass Production
A group of scientists researching glass production in France say they have discovered a way to produce high-quality glass at lower temperatures. However, Jean-Marc Flesselles, department director and project manager of the glass melting department at Saint-Gobain in France, whose company was involved in the research, says that the research in glass manufacturing with X-ray microtomography is only in its infant stages.

“The work … represents a significant scientific discovery,” Flesselles says. “In particular, it teaches us that reactions do take place in the solid phase at a much lower temperature than was previously assumed. That means we have to reconsider the way we understand the melting processes at play in industrial furnaces.”

“However, there are differences between the simple model glass used in this experiment and real commercial glasses, that most probably translate into differences into their melting behavior,” Flesselles says. “A direct transposition is obviously not possible and it also does not address the technical issues related to an industrial production process.”

Better fundamental understanding will help produce high-quality glass at a lower temperature, which in turn would have an influence in terms of gas emissions from glass furnaces, according to Flesselles. “But this is not in any foreseeable term: we just are at the beginning of a long-term research study with many stages before success,” he concludes.


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