Globally, glass manufacturing emits a minimum of 86 million tons of carbon dioxide yearly. Nonetheless, a brand new kind of glass referred to as LionGlass, developed by Penn State researchers, affords the potential to cut back this carbon output by 50%. Not solely does this progressive glass demand significantly much less vitality for manufacturing, however it additionally boasts better resistance to break in comparison with standard soda lime silicate glass. The scientists behind this breakthrough have just lately submitted a patent software, marking the preliminary transfer in the direction of introducing LionGlass to the market.
“Our aim is to make glass manufacturing sustainable for the long run,” stated John Mauro, Dorothy Pate Enright Professor of Supplies Science and Engineering at Penn State and lead researcher on the mission. “LionGlass eliminates using carbon-containing batch supplies and considerably lowers the melting temperature of glass.”
Soda lime silicate glass, the frequent glass utilized in on a regular basis gadgets from home windows to glass tableware, is made by melting three main supplies: quartz sand, soda ash, and limestone. Soda ash is sodium carbonate and limestone is calcium carbonate, each of which launch carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping greenhouse fuel, as they’re melted.
“Through the glass melting course of, the carbonates decompose into oxides and produce carbon dioxide, which will get launched into the environment,” Mauro stated.
However the bulk of the CO2 emissions come from the vitality required to warmth furnaces to the excessive temperatures wanted for melting glass. With LionGlass, the melting temperatures are lowered by about 300 to 400 levels Celsius, Mauro defined, which results in a roughly 30% discount in vitality consumption in comparison with standard soda lime glass.
Not solely is LionGlass simpler on the atmosphere, however it’s additionally a lot stronger than standard glass. The researchers stated they have been shocked to seek out that the brand new glass, named after Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot, possesses considerably increased crack resistance in comparison with standard glass.
Among the staff’s glass compositions had such a powerful crack resistance that the glass wouldn’t crack, even underneath a one kilogram-force load from a Vickers diamond indenter. LionGlass is a minimum of 10 occasions as crack-resistant in comparison with commonplace soda lime glass, which varieties cracks underneath a load of about 0.1 kilograms pressure. The researchers defined that the boundaries of LionGlass haven’t but been discovered, as a result of they reached the utmost load allowed by the indentation gear.
“We saved growing the burden on LionGlass till we reached the utmost load the gear will permit,” stated Nick Clark, a postdoctoral fellow in Mauro’s lab. “It merely wouldn’t crack.”
Mauro defined that crack resistance is without doubt one of the most vital qualities to check for in glass as a result of it’s how the fabric ultimately fails. Over time, glass develops microcracks alongside the floor, which develop into weak factors. When a chunk of glass breaks, it’s because of weaknesses brought on by current microcracks. Glass that’s immune to forming microcracks within the first place is particularly useful, he added.
“Injury resistance is a very vital property for glass,” Mauro stated. “Take into consideration all of the methods we depend on the power of glass, within the automotive business and electronics business, structure, and communication know-how like fiber optic cables. Even in well being care, vaccines are saved in robust, chemically resistant glass packaging.”
Mauro is hoping that the improved power of LionGlass means the merchandise created from it may be lighter weight. Since LionGlass is 10 occasions extra harm resistant than present glass, it may very well be considerably thinner.
“We must always have the ability to cut back the thickness and nonetheless get the identical stage of harm resistance,” Mauro stated. “If we’ve a lighter-weight product, that’s even higher for the atmosphere, as a result of we use much less uncooked supplies and wish much less vitality to supply it. Even downstream, for transportation, that reduces the vitality required to move the glass, so it’s a successful scenario for everybody.”
Mauro notes that the analysis staff remains to be evaluating the potential of LionGlass. They’ve filed a patent software for your complete household of glass, which implies there are lots of compositions throughout the LionGlass household, every with its personal distinct properties and potential functions. They’re now within the strategy of exposing varied compositions of LionGlass to an array of chemical environments to review the way it reacts. The outcomes will assist the staff develop a greater understanding of how LionGlass can be utilized all through the world.
“People discovered easy methods to manufacture glass greater than 5,000 years in the past and since then it has been vital to bringing fashionable civilization to the place it’s right now,” Mauro stated. “Now, we’re at a cut-off date after we want it to assist form the long run, as we face international challenges akin to environmental points, renewable vitality, vitality effectivity, well being care, and concrete growth. Glass can play a significant position in fixing these points, and we’re able to contribute.”