Research & Technology
The development of the sustainable recycled glass material
Through sustainable interpretation, a doctoral research investigation developed this unique recycled glass material. The material has a distinguished aesthetic feature that draw the viewer toward the material with a desire to touch it. The complex manufacturing process is on an artisan scale which allows the material to be engineered with intricate detail of patterns and textures.
A material scientific and experimental research approach were used to develop the sustainable glass material. Waste glass bottles was collected, cleaned, crushed before systematically fused using a low temperature fusing cycle to bond the broken glass. No additives were included, and the material was produced from hundred percent end-consumer bottle glass collected from local pubs and restaurants. The sustainable argument of circular economy was the driving factor and allowing a close loop cycle of the material.
During the investigation, the impact of low temperature fused recycled glass material was tested using a range of variables such as fusion cycles, cullet sizes, top temperatures and bottle origins. Test conducted were photoelastic stress measurement, four-point bending tests, stain and scratch tests. Mechanical measurements suggested that it was possible to define a lower limit to the bending strength of the material by selecting experimentally a maximum average internal stress for it.
Colour and texture development were also systematically investigated, concluding with a full colour spectrum along with a substantial quantity of varying textures, all as a function of grain size, fusion temperature and controlled devitrification. Strength tests confirmed that devitrified material is as strong, if not stronger, than conventional ceramics.
To confirm that it is possible to reproduce the material’s properties in an externally specified application, a case study was undertaken in a live project aimed at sustainable homes. Tiles were developed and satisfied successfully and specifications such as colour, texture, strength and reproducibility were met. Non-parametric significance testing of the responses to a questionnaire by three groups of representative prospective homebuyers with specific knowledge such as art & design, environmental & sustainability and business & management, confirmed the acceptability of recycled glass tiles for commercial applications.
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Set-up for photoelastic stress measurement
Digital stress measurement. Set-up shows quantitative analysis software, photoelastic camera, glass sample to be tested, diffuser plate and polarized light source.
Photoelastic stress measurement
All variations of glass samples developed during the research investigation were tested through a digital photoelastic stress measurement. Polarised light were passed through the sample to measure the internal stress in the glass sample.
An full investigation of crystallisation or also called devitrification were undertaken for aesthetic development of the recycled glass material.
Using Itten’s colour theory only primary colour Red Yellow and Blue were used to develop the full range of colours available, from vivid hues to and subdue and earthy colours.
Flatten or textured, clear of opaque. All variations are controlled through a complex manufacturing process using heat and time to control the outcome.
Four-point bend test
Mechanical testing using a four point bend test. Statistically analysis was undertaken and compared with other known materials
Photographs of samples
Photographs of each individual colour and texture samples were carefully taken for correct representation of the true colour.