Spring Pool Glass: new life for old glass

Spring Pool Glass processes about 100 thousand tons of glass per year

Spring Pool Glass, Taiwan’s largest specialized glass processor, has created building bricks that have high fire resistance, developed from recycled glass.

One of the hallmarks of the modern developed state is its serious attitude to the problem of waste recycling, primarily plastic and glass. For example, the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland stated recently that the most important indicator of the country’s competitiveness is the level of processing and recycling of glass. The process of processing glass is laborious, and the cost of the product is low, and if the country copes with this problem, it usually does not arise with other waste products.
Taiwan occupies the second place in the world in terms of the level of glass processing, second only to Sweden. The largest specialized company on the island, Spring Pool Glass, processes about 100 thousand tons of glass per year, or 70% of the national indicators. In particular, the glass battle goes to the production of building blocks. Demonstrating the possibilities of recycled glass, U Tin-an, executive assistant to the chairman of the board, turns on the blowtorch and directs the fire at a temperature of 800°C to such a building block. After several minutes of direct contact with the fire, the surface of the ‘brick’ did not suffer at all and even remained cool to the touch. “If a fire breaks out of the bricks built from this material, you will have time to drink coffee before rushing to run,” U laughs.
However, the rate of return of this business is extremely low: 1 kg of recycled glass costs about 1 ruble, in terms of Taiwanese currency, and there is no benefit whatsoever, only with large volumes.
Taiwan is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of consumer electronics, and every year it has to process large volumes of glass from flat panels. The melting point of this type of glass is higher than that of a conventional one, which increases the cost of electricity, which is quite expensive on the island. In addition, this glass is more difficult to use after processing. But such a glass is excellent for the production of refractory building material.
The principle of producing energy-saving units is quite simple. The glass of the flat panel display is ground into a powder, which is mixed with cement and subjected to foaming. The result is a porous material that has thermal insulation and soundproof qualities. Blocks from this material are environmentally friendly and safe for health, and they are expected to have a great future in the building materials market. In 2014, the UNICODE team of Jiaotong State University used these blocks to build its modular Orchid House, which won the Solar Decathlon Europe exhibition in Versailles.
In 2017, Wu Tin-an initiated a new project, which he named W Glass Project (‘Glass W’). Wu, who graduated from the University of Chengong University’s Resource Engineering Department in Taiwan and received a master’s degree in industrial management from the University of Cambridge, believes that sooner or later even the newest technologies turn into ‘traditional’ ones. The letter ‘W’ in the title of the project has a symbolic meaning: it is the first letter of the Romanized writing of the name Wu, and the first letter of the English word ‘waste’. But the most profound meaning lies in the consonance of the surname U hieroglyph, which can be interpreted as ‘non-existence’, ‘absence of something’.
Visitors to Creative Expo Taiwan 2017 could walk barefoot through the glass ‘ocean’ created from 40 tons of recycled glass. In the basin of the Baotou Hot Springs Museum in Taipei, an exhibition of ‘water bells’ – floating glass ‘bubbles’ on water, which accidentally come into contact, make a melodious ringing. These art installations became possible thanks to the W Glass project.
At the Spring Pool tourist factory, glass is made in the old fashion, as it was half a century ago. Wu Ting-an believes that modern technology should not kill traditional crafts that have become part of the national culture. In the end, old things acquire a new life, the former concepts are creatively reinterpreted, becoming an impetus for the development of new technologies that do not damage the environment.

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