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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Glass is a uniform material of arguable phase usually produced when the viscous molten material cools very rapidly to below its glass transition temperature, without sufficient time for a regular crystal lattice to form. The most familiar form of glass is the silica-based material used for household objects such as light bulbs and windows.

  • Glass is a biologically inactive material that can be formed into smooth and impervious surfaces. Under tension, glass is brittle and will break into sharp shards. Under compression, pure glass can withstand a great amount of force. The properties of glass can be modified or changed with the addition of other compounds or heat treatment.

  • The color of natural glass is green to bluish green. This color is caused by naturally occurring iron impurities in the sand. Common glass today usually has a slight green or blue tint, arising from these same impurities.

Process

  • To make glass, cool the melt so rapidly that very little crystallization occurs. Nucleation and growth rates also taper off at lower temperatures because the atoms are not mobile enough to move to new positions. If a melt is cooled rapidly enough through this range, only a minuscule volume will crystallize.

  • Glass is made by heating sand, lime, soda ash and "cullet" (crushed, recycled glass) to a very high temperature until the mixture melts. As it cools, it is poured into molds and injected with air.

  • The grinding and polishing of flat glass to produce plate glass have become obsolete since the development of the float glass process.

Technology

  • Glass technology has evolved from simply melting a mixture of sand and sodium carbonate, followed by casting, molding or blowing the molten mass, to requiring state-of-the-art technologies to ensure faster and cheaper production.

  • One of the key technology challenges that the glass industry needs to address is the need for improved energy efficiency. Primarily, the industry uses energy to supply heat to glass melting furnaces for melting and refining raw materials. According to the energy analysis conducted by the Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), energy costs account for nearly 8 percent to 12 percent of the total glass production costs.

Market

  • China's demand for flat glass has grown at a fast pace in the past decade. In the next five years, both production and demand will continue to grow. China's rapidly increasing demand for flat glass was stimulated by its two-decade high economic growth, especially the continuously rising demand in the automobile and construction markets.
  • The Chinese construction industry will continue to remain the largest market for flat glass. The total flat glass demand will increase 11.5% annually to 360 million weight cases in the current year. 
  • World Automotive Glass market is forecast to reach 390.3 million square meters by 2010 at a CAGR of 3.15% over the 2001-2010 period.

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