from the ashes ︎︎︎ a glass for next generations

This material is available for cooperations. Studio peipei is currently working on a water glass for a zero waste restaurant. At the same time, experiments are being carried out with more ingredients in order to develop further colors and structures.

    Glass is often seen as sustainable, because it can be recycled endlessly and it is one of the few materials where it works almost worldwide. But if you look closer, it's not that easy. In addition to a high level of hidden energy, various ingredients are required that are mostly problematic. This glass is a first step towards improvement.

In addition to sand, glass usually requires two other main components: Sodium Carbonate and Calcium Carbonate. As with most industrial processes, the availability of these ingredients is changing dramatically due to climate change and human production methods.

Sodium Carbonate as a flux lowers the melting point by about 250° C. After extraction in salt lakes, it is manufactured using the Solvay process, which requires a high level of water and energy as well as quicklime: Rare limestone heated to 1000° C.

Energy consumption that is completely overlooked in the case of glass.

On top of that, many natural salt lakes are shrinking rapidly due to global warming. “Since 1847, the volume of water level has dropped nearly 50 percent. More recently, the change has been so dramatic, you can see it from space.”

Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA | Biggest salt lake in the western hemisphere  | 41.294750°, -112.258444° (source: google maps)

Great Salt Lake Annual Level Prediction, Utah Climate Center

Limestone is removed in large mines to get Calcium Carbonate. The material is used in all possible areas of our everyday life, but it is limited. Limestone was formed over hundreds of millions of years and there is an annual usage of 5000 million tons of limestone.

‍The largest mine in Europe will be exhausted in 2048.

Limestone mine, Wülfrath, Germany | Largest limestone mine in EU | 52.481147°, 13.80039° (source: google maps)

︎︎︎ This new glass discovers infinite supply chains by using waste which has no value so far: Wood ash from pizza bakeries and clamshells from seafood restaurants. Private wood-burning stoves are also a valuable source, and many more such as grills and fire pits have been tested. These renewable raw materials are available in large quantities in many cities and have so far been thrown away.

Two out of three ingredients are recycled waste.

Potassium carbonate can be extracted from wood ash. A forgotten flux that was used in previous years. Seashells consist largely of calcium carbonate and once formed some of the limestones. Finely ground they give glass the well-known durability.

The increasingly scarce material quartz sand has not yet been replaced. In contrast to concrete and other high consumers, glass can be recycled endlessly. It can even be ground to sand again, which means that the material is in a closed cycle if the additives are harmless. Unfortunately, many glasses are not.

from the ashes is a 100% natural glass, free of toxic or limited additives and made for next generations.

Since coastal towns tend to have a growing problem with their beaches eroding, this sand is from a secluded beach in Spain. A new source will be sought in the future.

The brown version consists of the pure recipe described. In the green variant, different proportions of glass were recycled that the glassblowers can no longer use: colored and contaminated shards. This lowers the melting point one more time and saves further energy.

© Benedikt Peirotén 2021