|Using Glass in Building: Since 500 BC, humans has found glass to be a fascinating substance. Glass, formerly believed to hold magical abilities. It is among the most flexible and oldest construction materials available. From its modest origins as a window pane in Pompeii’s luxury homes to complex structural elements in modern era structures, the function of the window pane in architecture has developed through time.
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A SHORT HISTORY OF GLASS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
In ancient times, weapons were fashioned from obsidian (naturally occurring glass seen around volcanic areas) and fulgurite (glass generated naturally when lightning hits sand). Manufactured glass was utilized as a luxurious material in ornaments, jewelry, containers, and dinnerware.
Glass blowing was developed in Europe in the first century, revolutionizing the glass manufacturing business. The approach quickly gained popularity across the Roman Empire. The introduction of manganese dioxide into the production of clear glass resulted in glass being employed for architectural reasons. Cast glass windows started to emerge in Rome’s and Pompeii’s most notable buildings and villas. Glassmaking extended across Europe and the Middle East during the following 1,000 years. Anglo Saxon glass was employed in churches and cathedrals in the seventh century.
By the eleventh century, sheet glass was being manufactured using the crown glass method. The glassblower will spin molten glass at the end of a rod till it flattened into a disk in this technique. After then, the disk would be divided into panes. By the 13th century, Venice had mastered this method. From the 11th through the 18th centuries, stained glass windows were utilized in gothic renaissance and baroque architecture. Great painters from all around the globe have immortalized the instances of magnificent patterns produced with coloured glass. Crown glass was utilized until the mid-nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, windows were constructed with flat / sheet glass. These were perfectly flat and free of optical aberrations.
However, glass remained a premium commodity due to its production requiring vast resources, dazzling talent, and enormous energy. Pilkington and Bickerstaff gave the world to the breakthrough float glass method in 1958. This approach produced a sheet with a consistent thickness and very smooth areas. Modern windows are constructed entirely of float glass.
HOW GLASS IS APPLIED IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Modern architecture has been essential in the mass manufacturing of concrete, glass, and steel structures in the factories we call cities since the early twentieth century. This idea aided in the provision of houses for the expanding middle class. In many nations, glass and steel architecture has become a sign of growth, with people seeing these structures as symbols of riches and elegance.
PRODUCTION OF GLASS
Glassmaking is a very old process, with archaeological evidence going all the way back to before 2500 BC. Previously an uncommon and valued form of art, glass making has become a widespread business as a result of the Pilkington method.
Historically, glass was created by blowing liquid glass formed by melting sand calcium oxide and sodium carbonate to very high temperatures and then cooling the molten liquid to the required shape. The formula for making glass has remained unchanged for many thousand years. It is simply that its qualities may be increased by the addition of particular admixtures to the raw ingredients or through the application of a suitable coating to fulfill certain requirements.
The glass manufacturing factory receives a large quantity of raw materials (clear sand, calcium oxide, and sodium carbonate). They are then weighed and proportioned properly then mixed. Certain admixtures are added to the batch to provide the desired properties or color to the glass.
After that, the mixture is heated in a gas-fired furnace or an electric smelter, a pot furnace, or a kiln. Without additions, quartz sand transforms into glass at a temperature of 2300 oC. Adding sodium carbonate (soda) lowers the required temperature for glass formation to 1,500 oC.
The result is a homogenous slurry of molten glass. This mixture is then floated over molten tin to get the necessary thickness of glass. After the process’s hot phase is complete, the glass is allowed to cool. The method used to cool the glass influences its strength. After maintaining a proper temperature, it must be cooled, i.e. annealed. If the glass is cooled rapidly, it might become too fragile to handle. Annealing is crucial to the durability of glass.
Making glass is an energy-intensive process. Four gigajoules of energy are required to produce one tonne of glass. That is the same amount of energy that a wind turbine generates in a single day! Additionally, this amount of energy may be utilized to power nearly 200 dwellings. (Although they are not made of glass)
PROPERTIES OF GLASS
Transparency: This characteristic establishes visual connection with the external world. By adding admixtures to the original batch mix, its transparency may be permanently changed. Clear panels used in structures may be rendered opaque with the advancement of technology. (Glazing using electrochromatic pigments)
U value: The U-value of a window indicates how much heat is carried through it. The lower the U-value, the greater the glass’s insulation characteristics — the more effectively it keeps heat or cold out.
Strength: Although glass is a brittle material, advancements in science and technology have enabled specific laminates and admixtures to enhance its rupture modulus.
Workability: It may be worked in a variety of ways. It is capable of being blown, pulled, or pushed. Glass may be clear, colorless, diffused, or stained. Additionally, glass may be welded using fusion.
Recyclable: Glass is 100% recyclable.
SOME TYPES OF GLASS
Float Glass: Also known as soda lime glass or clear glass. This is a transparent, flat glass that is formed by annealing molten glass. Its rupture modulus is between 5000 and 6000 psi. Stronger than Rocky Balboa absorbing blows from Ivan Drago’s 2000 psi punching guy. It comes in conventional thicknesses ranging from 2 mm to 20 mm and weighs between 6 and 26 kg/m2. It possesses an excessive amount of transparency, which might result in glare. It is used to construct canopies, storefronts, glass blocks, and railing dividers, among other things.
Tinted Glass: Certain additives to the glass batch mix may impart color to clear glass without weakening it. Iron oxide imparts a green color to the glass; sulfur in various quantities imparts a yellow, red, or black hue to the glass. Copper sulfate has the ability to tint it blue., e.tc.
Toughened Glass Tempered glass may exhibit distortions and reduced vision, yet it fractures into little dice-like fragments at a modulus of rupture of 3600 psi. As a result, it is utilized to create fire-resistant doors and other structures. They come in the same weights and thicknesses as float glass.
Laminated Glass: This form of glass is created by sandwiching two glass panels together and covering them with a protective coating. It is heavier than ordinary glass and may also exhibit optical aberrations. It is durable, protects against UV radiation (99%), and insulates sound by 50%. Used in glass facades, aquariums, bridges, stairwells, and floor slabs, among other applications.
The flexibility of glass continues to expand as scientists discover new uses for this marvellous material. Glass is currently employed in the construction industry as an insulation material, structural component, exterior glazing material, and cladding material; it is also used to create delicate fenestrations on facades in addition to traditional windows. Glass is continually evolving as a result of the advancement of green technologies in building. Solar-powered glass and switchable glass projection screens are two of the more recent applications. This is a substance to keep an eye out for!