from the ashes ︎︎︎ a glass for next generations

    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)

︎︎︎ from the ashes discovers infinite supply chains by using waste which has no value so far: Ashes from wood-fired pizzerias and sea shells from seafood restaurants. These renewable raw materials are locally available worldwide. No continental transport is necessary, no external exploitation, no environmental destruction.

The preparation of the ingredients requires no chemical additives. The recipe, which has been balanced over several years, also uses significantly less gas than ordinary productions. 
However, complete sustainability can only be achieved when no more gas is needed. A general problem in glass production. For this reason, a long-term solution is being sought to produce energy-neutrally. 

Two out of three ingredients are recycled waste.
No continental transport, no external exploitation, no environmental degradation.

Potassium carbonate can be extracted from wood ash. Potassium carbonate can be obtained from wood ash.  A forgotten flux that was used in previous years. Many pizzerias produce wood ash as a by-product that can be processed with simple steps. Seashells consist largely of calcium carbonate and once formed some of the limestones. Finely ground they give glass the well-known durability and they, too, accumulate in large quantities as waste.

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.

The quartz sand comes from a nearby mine in Germany and is of extremely high quality and purity. In the long term, a waste source is also being sought here.

These patterns are created by an extremely short and energy-saving melt.

These are the very first results. The brown color was caused by contamination in the experimental oven and was the inspiration for later colour experiments.

The different stages of the melt, the longer the more transparent and homogeneous.

These amber series also includes special glass waste to show compatibility with other glass. The waste comes from the container of a german coloured glass manufacturer, which has to throw away optical and coloured production errors. Glasses of the highest quality, which continue to be used here. 

© Benedikt Peirotén 2021