Scientists have invented LionGlass, a glass that is 10 times stronger than ordinary glass

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed LionGlass, which can withstand 10 times the stresses of conventional glass and is produced with significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Future glazing could be lighter and stronger and require less manufacturing costs.

Aug 16, 2023 - 13:31
Scientists have invented LionGlass, a glass that is 10 times stronger than ordinary glass
Image source: Adrienne Berard/Penn State

Glass has accompanied our civilization for about 5000 years. It is everywhere, from window panes to tableware. Traditionally, glass is made by melting a mixture of silica sand, soda ash and limestone. The melting temperature of the mixture reaches 1500 °C, which is accompanied by enormous energy consumption and accompanying CO2 emissions, as well as increased wear and tear on equipment such as furnaces and tooling. In addition, a great deal of carbon dioxide is released during the chemical reaction of glass formation. All of this makes glass production an environmentally unattractive process.

The scientists replaced the carbonates in the mixture with aluminum oxide and iron oxides. This immediately lowered the melting point of the mixture by 300-400 °C and reduced the energy consumption for melting by 30%. The absence of carbonates in the mixture also reduced the formation of CO2 during the chemical reaction, which together allows us to talk about the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the production of LionGlass by 50% and even more.

Moreover, hardness and cracking tests of LionGlass have shown that it is at least 10 times stronger than ordinary glass. While the Vickers test showed that ordinary glass begins to crack at a load of 100 grams, LionGlass was able to withstand a load of 1 kilogram without damage. The research team did not have a heavier load as part of the measuring system, so they were unable to determine the load limit for the new glass.

But even this result is encouraging. For glass, microcracks are a path to rapid fracture. A tenfold increase in the strength of this indicator promises to make window panes and other glass products noticeably thinner without deteriorating strength characteristics, and this is another way to reduce production costs.

The scientists have applied for a patent on the LionGlass invention. In the next stage, they will start looking for partners to commercialize the new glass. In parallel, they are conducting experiments to test LionGlass for resistance to different conditions and chemical environments, which will help determine the scope of its application.

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