Researchers Develop Glass That Requires Less Energy to Produce, Retains StrengthJuly 6th, 2023 by Joshua Huff
A new type of glass engineered by Penn State University researchers aims to cut glass manufacturing carbon dioxide emissions in half. The material, dubbed LionGlass, was designed to use less energy to produce while remaining more damage resistant than standard soda lime silicate glass.
Researchers recently filed a patent application and are in the process of exposing various compositions of LionGlass 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 that 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 (compared to 1,400 degrees), which leads to a roughly 30% reduction in energy consumption compared to conventional soda lime glass.
Not only does it need less energy to melt, but LionGlass’ 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.
LionGlass is also stronger than conventional glass, says Mauro. Researchers claim the glass is significantly more crack-resistant than conventional glass. In fact, tests show that LionGlass is at least 10 times as crack resistant as standard soda lime glass, which cracks under loads of about 0.1 kilograms of force.
“We kept increasing the weight on LionGlass until we reached the maximum load the equipment will allow,” says Nick Clark, a postdoctoral fellow in Mauro’s lab. “It simply wouldn’t crack.”
Clark adds the team has yet to find the material’s limits when it comes to crack resistance because they reached the maximum load allowed by indentation equipment.
Mauro says that researchers hope LionGlass’ strength will allow finished products including the material to be lighter than those made with standard glass.
“Damage resistance is a particularly important property for glass,” says Mauro. “Think about how we rely on the strength of glass in the automotive and electronics industries, architecture, and communication technology, like fiber optic cables. Even in health care, vaccines are stored in strong, chemically resistant glass packaging.”