Glass technology is one of the more sustainable ways to ease the burden on our environment. In fact, as science advances stronger and lighter versions of glass from recycled products, glass alternatives make more sense than ever before. Let’s take a deep dive into what is happening in the world of glass. How can these new technologies change our lives over the next decade, and where are they already at work?
Glass is a sustainable, fully recyclable material that provides great environmental benefits. For example, glass contributes to mitigating climate change and saving precious natural resources. It is also ideal for many applications because of its inert nature. Moreover, glass contributes to safeguarding people’s health and well being in dozens of ways.
Since glass can take up to one million years to decompose, it makes sense to recycle it instead of using similar products made from plastic. At Precision Electronic Glass, we are serious about glass technology. That is why we have spent the past five decades and three generations advancing glass technology in custom components. In fact, we recycle our glass for paving roads and driveways. We could write a book about all the reasons why we believe in the future of glass. But for the purpose of this blog and the future of our planet, here are just a few.
Glass Technology Can Help Mitigate Climate Change
In many types of applications, glass technology helps save energy. Most of us are familiar with using glass to insulate windows and facades. However, glass is also a light-weight reinforcement in automotive, aviation, boats, and other forms of transport. In fact, the use of glass fibers not only reduces the weight of vehicles, but it also reduces their fuel consumption and other materials that have a larger carbon footprint.
In addition to the use of fiberglass, newer types of glass made with opaque titanium and zirconium are harder, tougher, and lighter than stainless steel. First developed in Berkeley Lab almost a decade ago, scientists developing this glass see it as an eventual replacement for steel and aluminum in a variety of products.
Glass technology is also taking center stage in building products. For example, expanded glass granules are now used to create an aggregate, lightweight concrete that becomes a beautiful mineral and ecological building product that can easily be recycled if needed. And when it comes to generating renewable energy, solar-thermal and photovoltaic applications, as well as wind turbines, reap the benefits on a grand scale from light-weight reinforcement glass technology.
Save Natural Resources With Glass Technology
Glass is a resource-efficient material. That is because it is made of abundant natural raw materials such as sand and glass waste (cullets). Glass is not only fully recyclable material, it can be recycled in a closed-loop over and over again.
For example, glass bottles have an average recycling rate of 50-80% in Europe. However, in the U.S., glass is recycled less often than aluminum cans even though all glass used for food can be recycled indefinitely. On a positive note, the majority of the glass jars and bottles made in the U.S. contain at least 25% recycled glass.
Thanks to glass recycling, our planet saves significant amounts of raw materials and preserves natural resources. Glass recycling also helps in saving energy as cullets (recycled broken or waste glass used in glassmaking) melt at a lower temperature than raw materials. Consequently, less energy is required for the melting process. This saves about 75% of the energy to reuse glass than it does to create new glass from raw materials. The amount of solid waste resulting from glass manufacturing is also extremely low since almost all glass waste (cullets) immediately return to the furnace.
Happy Hour and Recycling — Say Yes to Bottle Recycling
More than 60 percent of glass products manufactured in the US are made from clear glass. Manufacturers use clear glass most often because it allows purchasers to see the product. However, light exposure causes many products in clear containers to degrade over time. Clear glass consists of sand or silica, soda ash, and limestone. Generally, clear glass products are recycled into the clear glass while the colored glass is recycled into glass products of the same color. For this reason, recycling centers require you to separate clear glass from colored glass.
There is another very common color of glass in the United States. If you drink beer, you will recognize the color of the beer bottle. In fact, 31 percent of glass containers produced in the U.S. are brown or amber. To get this color, the bottle maker adds carbon, nickel, and sulfur to molten clear glass. If you recycle brown and amber glass, you will only get brown or amber products. The purpose of using brown or amber glass is that it protects its contents from degradation due to sunlight, preserving both flavor and freshness.
We cannot forget about the green bottle, commonly used for bottling wine. About seven percent of the glass containers made in the U.S. are green. This color comes from iron and copper or chromium in the molten clear glass. Just like brown glass, you can only recycle green glass into more green glass products. Green glass protects its contents from both temperature changes and sunlight.
Safeguarding People’s Health and Well-Being
Glass is among the preferred materials not only for its beauty and art, but also for its unique characteristics. Glass preserves the taste and vitamins in our food, drinks, and medicines. As an inert material, it guarantees that the food and beverages in glass containers don’t absorb color or chemicals from the packaging and vice versa. Glass technology is also a huge help to the pharmaceutical industry to preserve the properties of medicines. On another side of the medical sector, optical glass helps improve the vision of millions of Europeans.
Precision Electronic Glass manufacturers a wide array of medical components ranging from glass syringes to components for x-ray and lasers. And PEG’s glass technology is also in the lab, where we provide important components to assist with elemental analysis and chromatography as well.
Today, architects use glass technology to provide natural light that enhances the living and working conditions of occupants. Studies show that glass in buildings contributes to people’s well-being and improves health conditions.
Glass Technology Changes our Lives in Positive Ways
The future of how you interact with computer-driven workstations depends on a technology that’s more than 3,000 years old. It’s a technology you use every day on your smartphone, your TV, in your home, your car, and at work. It’s even in the fiber optic cables that bring you data service at the closest we can currently get to light speed. If you haven’t yet guessed — it’s glass. Undoubtedly, the impact that glass technology has on our lives is only getting started.
Every day, our PEG engineers and glass technicians work with clients to find custom solutions to produce new components. These assist in fire protection, security, surveillance, farming, storage, refining, medical, veterinary, research, and more. We look forward to hearing from your team to discuss a custom solution today.
PEG’s mission is to provide customized glass and quartz products and related services to OEMs and distributors. We work globally in all countries where our customers operate. Our objective is to fabricate the finest precision glass and quartz components and assemblies to customers’ specifications. Working together with customers, PEG manufactures prototypes; handles small to large production runs; performs value-added assembly, and provides cleanroom processing when specifications dictate the need for it.
Utilizing standard or computer-controlled glass lathe fabrication; glass-to-glass and glass-to-metal graded seals; cutting and end finishing; and precision grinding/polishing. PEG produces components and value-added assemblies, including medical, dental, or industrial glass X-ray tubes, CO2 or HeNe lasers. We produce all glass and quartz fabrications in facilities certified to ISO 9001:2015 standards of quality. Our commitment to quality and integrity in everything we do is reflected in our mission statement, corporate values, and quality policy.