Researchers Develop Glass That Requires Less Energy to Produce, Yet Retains Strength

A new type of glass engineered by Penn State University researchers aims to cut glass manufacturing carbon dioxide emissions in half. LionGlass was designed to use less energy to produce while remaining more damage resistant than standard soda lime silicate glass.

The researchers recently filed a patent application and are exposing various LionGlass compositions to different chemical environments to study how it reacts.

“Our goal is to make glass manufacturing sustainable for the long term,” says John Mauro, Dorothy Pate Enright Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State and lead researcher on the project. “LionGlass eliminates the use of carbon-containing batch materials and significantly lowers the melting temperature of glass.”

Mauro says the bulk of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions originate from the energy needed to heat furnaces that melt glass. LionGlass, however, only requires temperatures of around 300 to 400 degrees Celsius to melt, which leads to a roughly 30% reduction in energy consumption compared to conventional soda lime glass.

The lack of carbon-containing batch materials also eliminates the release of CO2 emissions. Mauro explains that soda lime silicate glass is made by melting three primary materials: quartz sand, soda ash and limestone. The latter two materials release CO2 as they melt.

Nick Clark, a postdoctoral fellow in Mauro’s lab, adds that the team has yet to find the crack-resistant limits of LionGlass because they reached the maximum load allowed by the indentation equipment.

“We kept increasing the weight on LionGlass until we reached the maximum load the equipment will allow,” says Clark. “It simply wouldn’t crack.”

Mauro says that the researchers hope LionGlass’s strength means that products featuring it are lighter, which is better for the environment because fewer raw materials are used, and less energy was needed to produce it.

Briefly

The United Kingdom’s (U.K.) Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero has distributed more than $102 million to companies across the U.K. to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives. Among those is Glass Futures, which received nearly $9 million and $14 million for its members. Glass Futures officials state the governmental funding will be used to fund multiple projects in progress, including rapid dynamic electric boosting of glass furnaces, demonstrating the viability of low-cost biofuels for glass and ceramics and demonstrating hydrogen in the ceramics sector … The U.S. General Services Administration’s Green Proving Ground program has selected 20 building technologies to test in buildings to help decarbonize the built environment, including vacuum-insulating glazing from Pilkington, R14 interior window retrofit system from Vitro Architectural Glass and a secondary window framing system from Indow.

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