GLASS - by Atri Sikdar

GLASS

G L A S S

Glass is mysterious; it flows, reflects, transforms; it encloses space without appearing to do so; its transparency dematerializes a wall, yet when you look obliquely into its green depths, it has substance, like the sea. It combines transparency with rock like hardness and resistance to the elements. Unlike traditional construction materials which slowly weather and acquire a patina of age, glass remains virtually pristine through time.

Glass can be defined as an inorganic product of fusion which has cooled to a rigid condition without crystallizing.

We think of Glass as a delicate material which must be framed or bolted in place on a building. It is, in theory, as strong as steel but where as steel, when stressed, will yield, glass contains flaws which cause it to fracture.

Glass is always broken by tensile stress on its surface.

 

As the wheel of time turns, the ambient temperature is breaking new grounds, causing worrying weather conditions. It has different effects in different fields. In the construction and building field, the varying heat and cold has implications. If it gets warmer outside, the cooling process inside has to be geared up. If it is cooler outside, the heating system has to be intensified inside. Both required electrical energy which means the burning of more coal or fuel oil which are nature’s gift to us as fossils and have a terminal life on the planet. Conservation and optimum use of it is the prudent thing to do.

It is wise, therefore, to use a material which can be re-cycled and used again. Glass being a product which is produced mainly from sand, silica, traces of iron and water; are abundantly available and are less demanding on the nature. Besides this, glass can be recycled and put back into the manufacturing process.

This is quite a unique phenomenon. More than one ton of natural resources can be saved for every ton of glass reused. For every 10% cullet used in glass production, the cost of energy drops by nearly 3%. For every 6 tonnes of cullet reduces more than a ton of carbon dioxide emission. Thus recycling glass provides for significant environmental benefits. Glass, when recycled, does not require any additional processing and is 100% safe for reuse.

It may be that the pursuit of transparency has reached its own in glass ceiling. Concerns to conserve natural energy and reduce the green house effect in the earth’s atmosphere have led to designs which combine seamless transparent skins with high performance environmental control.

 

New responsive glass facades use self regulating thermal protection and solar control measures to adapt to changing light and weather conditions. In this way they meet the needs of building users while reducing energy consumption levels.

A self-cleaning glass, originally developed for aircraft wind screens, is now available for use in external windows. This glass, coated with microscopic chemical coatings, has properties which repel moisture and dirt, allowing them to be washed away during normal rainy weather.