Talk to anyone that works with glass, and sooner or later they are going to lament the fact that the strength of currently available glass is only a fraction of its theoretical strength. Simply put, it is relatively heavy and breakable.
On this topic, earlier this year I edited a story for the Bulletin (written by coalition member and Coca Cola’s lead glass scientist, Lou Mattos) about how a group of dedicated glass scientists, engineers, and industry representatives has been meeting behind the scenes to pull together a coalition to support a sustained effort in the United States to understand why current forms of glass are not stronger, and—more to the point—to begin to develop commercial glasses that are qualitatively stronger than anything currently available.
Mattos describes in the article how forming such a coalition is much harder than one might assume. According to him, it requires forming a critical mass of people in academia, industry, and government; establishing operating rules on everything from decision making to how to handle intellectual property; finding initial funding; and identifying a way of administering the organization. In these kinds of situations, everyone waits for someone else to take the first leap into the unknown.
Despite these difficulties, Mattos, the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC), and many others in the ad hoc group kept toiling away at efforts to get a permanent coalition off the ground, and their efforts have been rewarded. Yesterday, I received this announcement:
Under the auspices of the GMIC, a cross-industry team of representatives has developed a vision and operational structure for a glass industry coalition, the Usable Glass Strength Coalition (UGSC), to drive an agenda focused on basic research in the area of glass strength properties. Today, GMIC announces the signing of the UGSC operating agreement, placing the coalition in operation.
The coalition will advance, develop and promote fundamental, precompetitive research applicable to increasing the usable strength of glass across all glass sectors (container, flat, specialty, fiber, etc.); to provide an opportunity for glass researchers to develop expertise in areas suitable for industrial applications; and to develop tools and measurement techniques for the advancement of glass science.
The coalition intends to collaboratively fund and guide the research program and to build on the outcomes of the research program and allow development and commercialization activities outside and apart from the coalition to the individual members.
Coalitions for conducting basic research are becoming more common because they leverage the resources across companies for a common purpose; alone most companies are unable to fund basic research.
The GMIC announcement says the UGSC has secured membership commitments to join from four organizations. It also says it has four other prospective members in the final stages of management approval.
That’s great news, and, in fact, GMIC says the coalition will hold its inaugural board of directors meeting in January to finalize an operating plan.