Nobody would have believed this 10 years ago, but buying a pile of waste glass brings more added value than bringing that money to the bank. However, converting this pile of glass in windows or even bottles is not possible without proper actions of selecting and ordering this pile into different colours and compositions. But on the other hand, converting into cellular glass is a lot easier, cheaper and brings much more added value.
For a long time, most attention went to the thermal conductivity, the number which was used to compare thermal insulations. In order to improve this number, a lot of primary energy was used to manufacture polymers. On the other side, fibers were produced and tons of binders were used to assemble these fibers into a workable structure. To improve stability, a higher density was used with even more binder. The minerals were pointing on the combustibility of polymer foams. PIR foams with a lower combustiblity were born, replacing the PUR foams while XPS and EPS were introducing flameretarders in their polystyrene. This is today a problem for the invironment and new flame retarders were developed. The polymer foam industry reacted by generating some doubt about the effect of these mineral fibers in human lungs. For a limited time, mineral fibers got a classification about a risk for cancer. This classification was downgraded to harmless later on. This battle will for sure be continued for the benefit of thermal insulation users.
From heaven, cellular glass manufactures were watching this battle and giving customers an alternative without the above disadvantages, observed with polymer foams and mineral fibers. Comfortable in their 1% niche, they all could work with rather high prices although their production method with molds was rather aged. They were happy with 70 % recycled glass, which did forget that 30% fresh raw materials were still used with a lot of primary energy. Indeed, the polymer foams were using even more energy.
And suddenly was there GLAPOR, founded and stimulated by Walter Frank, who was inpired by the success of cellular glass gravel. Walter Frank, the Steve Jobs of cellular glass installed an annealing furnace and finishing equipment behind a foaming furnace for cellular glass gravel. With the profits of the cellular glass gravel production, he started testing and improving a board production line with an absolutely free mind. He worked with four principles which are an example of the KISS-principle.
- Work only with recycled glass, which is not suited anymore for the rest of the glass industry.
- Minimize the energy consumption by choosing a recipe which allows to work with efficient combustion.
- Produce large boards, which can be cut to smaller plates later on if requested by the customer.
- Use only products without any cancerogenic classification
With these principles, he came to a cellular glass product which needs to be thicker to attain the R-value of boards produced by alternative cellular glass producers. These thicker plates are a lot cheaper to produce and the investment in equipment is only of the order of a cellular glass gravel plant. On top of that, these boards are due to their thickness a lot more stiff which is a basic request for large cellular glass boards up to 2.8 x 1.5m. These GLAPOR boards, mostly reduced to EURO-pallet dimensions are really succesfull on the market and are an improved alternative for high density mineral wool. As a side effect, classical cellular users and architects are also finding on their own the way to this product and are enjoying price and size. GLAPOR never stepped into the race of the best thermal conductivity, organized by PIR, XPS, EPS, MW, VIP and the nano-materials. Thin insulation is never strong, a major request by the building industry.
It is clear that for the future other waste minerals will be used and even larger sizes will be produced. Today, up to 7000€/ton is paid to dump mineral wool insulation. Float glass is produced with a width of at least 5m and there is no reason why this is not possible with a cellular glass boards. Besides the possibilities in prefab building with these large boards, doubling the width halves the labor cost in a cellular glass plant.
We expect a time where a prefab cellular glass house will be free of charge, construction with guarantee included. The cellular glass producer will be paid by the ones who have to dump mineral wool thermal insulation. In fact, the cellular glass house will be the final grave where converted mineral wool will be “dumped”. All the used energy (thanks to the special recipe) will be clean electricity, produced by wind, solar and the combustion of PIR, XPS and EPS. Indeed, waste (glass) is gold … if converted into cellular glass.