A life without glass is no longer imaginable today. The versatile material is an important part of our everyday life, which is built into numerous devices and, as functional glazing, generates transparency and light. The material also plays a key role in saving energy, as the material is 100 percent recyclable.
An indispensable material
Today, glass is essential for improving energy efficiency and minimizing the ecological footprint. Glass constructions available from suppliers such as glas.de are very popular as flat glass in the construction industry, for example.
The need for glass surfaces is the same for private buildings and large office buildings.
In the construction sector, glass is to increasingly replace other materials in the future. In favor of the energy transition, there is talk of multi-layer glass that enables interior lighting.
At the same time, glass could take over the function of a cooling system and heating system in just a few years. A connection with solar cells or other technology could further expand the variety of application options.
Glass for solar applications
Some companies have specialized in manufacturing solar applications such as solar power plants, thin-film photovoltaics or crystalline silicon solar cells. These applications ensure that renewable energy is generated and CO2 emissions are reduced.
So-called sun protection glass effectively minimizes unwanted heat gain due to solar radiation. Insulating thermal insulation glazing has a positive effect on air conditioning, even if buildings are predominantly made of glass.
At the same time, the glazing is ideally suited to produce a passive solar gain. For climate protection reasons, modern thermal insulation glass therefore offers a major advantage in terms of improving living comfort and, in return, saving energy.
Importance of glass for the automotive industry
For the automotive industry, glass is also of great importance for the production of environmentally friendly vehicles. Just as in buildings, modern glass enables a reduction in CO2 emissions and thus improves the energy efficiency of vehicles.
For example, the weight of glazing is decisive.
Lightweight vehicle glass is suitable, for example, so that electric vehicles can achieve a longer range. In addition, the vehicles produce lower emissions.
An important part of the digital age
Glass is a material with a future, without which the triumph of the digital age would be inconceivable. Whether for creating interactive touchscreens, tablets, smartphones, laptops, entertainment screens in airplanes or for creating fiber optic networks: In many ways, glass is an element of the future.
A major reason for the widespread use of glass is its ability to constantly change and adapt its physical properties. Adaptations at the molecular level and connections with other materials form an important basis for further improving the properties of glass and eliminating possible weaknesses. This not only creates new grades of glass. At the same time, completely new glass is being produced.
Corning Willow Glass als Innovation
One of these energy-friendly variants is Corning Willow Glass, which is only 0.1 millimeters thin and yet as strong as conventional soda-lime glass. This glass is suitable for interior trim, consumer electronics or home appliances. A strength of this glass variant is a particularly scratch-resistant surface.
In favor of the energy transition, it can be assumed that light and yet strong types of glass such as Corning Willow Glass will be used much more frequently in the future.
If these variants also have intelligent surfaces and interactive touch functions, these glasses could celebrate their breakthrough as wall cladding as interactive household appliances.
Combination of fragility and robustness
Technologies like these redefine the virtues of glass. Long gone are the days when glass was only considered a brittle and fragile material with many possible uses.
In the course of the energy transition, glass is increasingly becoming an enrichment for other families of materials. Gone are the days when glass was valued for its brittleness and fragility. The newly won combination of fragility and robustness gives the material new properties, so that new possible uses automatically arise.
For the first time in the history of glass production, it is possible for glass to connect objects and information.
Methods for improving energy efficiency
Glass is already making an important contribution to improving energy efficiency and promoting a low-CO2 economy.
However, the production of glass is a relatively energy-intensive process, so that the glass industry is dependent on a constant supply of natural gas.
Because glass production runs around the clock, the glass mixture has to be permanently heated to 1,600 degrees in melting tanks using natural gas-fired burners and melted into glass. It is impossible to turn off the lights. However, other solutions and alternatives could drive the energy transition forward in the future.
New glassmaking processes
An interesting option is new processes in which conventional heating with natural gas and oxygen has been replaced by heating with hydrogen and oxygen. Initial tests showed that the glass produced achieved a comparable glass quality with this application.
The first steps have been taken to transform glass into an even more climate and energy-friendly raw material. In this country, these developments are of particularly great importance, since Germany has established itself as one of the leading nations for European glass production.