Every two years, there is the glass technology fair in Düsseldorf. It is not my favorite exercise, certainly in times when float glass industry is suffering. But I was surprised by the many presentations about cellular glass, like for example Francke. They are working together with Glamaco Maschinenbau, a company which was working for the old Coriglas plant in Schmiedefeld, Germany. But another demonstration was astonishing. Indeed, Lfg or Lehr for Glass, who has built the plant for STES in Vladimir in Russia, had a nice 3D model of a production line, together with a movie of the running line and produced cellular glass. The produced cellular glass had extremely fine cells for such a light block. The first line was successfully started and the second line will be running in two weeks, together producing about 100000m³. Oleg Gerber, owner of Lfg, was very proud he did the job with ordinary robots, who are very flexible to program and easy to replace in case of failure. Oleg, a real Ukrainian, was working a long time for Ernst Pennekamp GmbH&Co, a glass lehr constructor and he decided to make the big jump. He found the capital and he did it, I have a large respect for this self made man. Some time ago, he asked my opinion about his robot, running in a pilot plant in Wuppertal, Germany. I still remember that visit, it was the first time I saw a white powder to be foamed to a nice black foam in an electric furnace under air. I realized I made an error 7 years ago, when I was thinking that cellular glass was at the end. Indeed, we are at the beginning of new challenging wave.
It was a long time very quite in the cellular glass business but the last seven years, a huge extra production capacity for boards was built in Europe, China and Russia. STES should sell their material NEOPORM about 40% cheaper than other manufacturers for the same quality and still with good profits. Next to that, we have at least 1000000 m³ foamed glass gravel, used for floor thermal insulation. This is the start of important price drops, making cellular glass accessible to everybody, who likes to behave ecological and wanted to avoid foams with a rather short life time. Andrei from STES and Oleg from LFG are doing the same as for example Michael O’Leary from Ryan Air for the aviation industry. Thanks to him and other price breakers, ordinary people can take the air plane while in the past, it was reserved for the happy few without any good reason. Thanks Andrei and Oleg, you both are great guys.