Approaches to studying the dissolution mechanisms of glasses for nuclear waste containment was one of the topics reported on by a Chemical & Engineering News science writer at the May GOMD meeting. This image comes from an article published in the International Journal of Applied Glass Science, “Durable Glass for Thousands of Years” (DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-1294.2010.00007.x). The upper diagram represents an ion exchange and matrix dissolution mechanism, and the lower diagram represents an accelerated matrix dissolution mechanism. Credit: IJAGS; Wiley.

There are two interesting articles from the glass world that are of more than general interest.

Mitch Jacoby, a science reporter with Chemical & Engineering News, was at the GOMD meeting St. Louis in May. Yesterday C&EN published Jacoby’s article reporting on his time with us, “New Applications for Glass Emerge.” C&EN is a weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society.

“As a result of glass’s widespread use and broad commercialization, the field of glass science and technology is thriving. The field’s liveliness was evident from conference room discussions and coffee-break chatter at last month’s meeting of the Glass & Optical Materials Division of The American Ceramic Society (ACerS) in St. Louis,” Jacoby writes.

The article captures the breadth of applications for engineered glass, citing a sampling of technologies that are of academic and commercial interest, such as strengthened glasses (Corning, Saxon Glass), bioreactive glasses (Mo-Sci), dental restoration (Ivoclar Vivadent) and chalcognenide-base sensors (University of Delaware).

“Glass has been around for 5,000 years, and yet there still are many things we don’t understand about its properties,” says GOMD chairman, John Ballato, in the article.

Jacoby reports on talks by researchers studying archaeological or ancient glasses, such as the team of Chinese scientists who are studying the unusual “hare’s fur” glazing found on ceremonial tea bowls from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), and using modern tools to understand the complex crystallization processes occurring in the glazes.

The article points out the usefulness of archaeological glasses for understanding long-timescale behavior of glasses, which is relevant for nuclear waste storage applications. Jacoby highlights work being done at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on glass recovered from a third century shipwreck to study glass corrosion and dissolution mechanisms, with an eye on modeling nuclear waste glass sequestration for 1 million years.

In other glass news, Saint-Gobain says in its latest newsletter to investors that “Saint-Gobain Glass and Glassolutions are the first glassmakers in the world to have performed a complete life cycle assessment (LCA) of their glazing products and mirrors.” The LCAs are based on ISO 14040 and 14044 criteria and “are the most scientific way to measure a product’s environmental footprint,” according to the newsletter.

Saint-Gobain is making the LCAs available to customers who are interested in taking on a similar exercise.