Glass tubing plays a crucial role in industrial processes of all kinds, but it is especially important in environmental technology. Without precision engineered glass tubing, manufacturers of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants would struggle to compete with fossil fuels, while glass is also a key part of the photobioreactors used in creating the fuels of […]
Glass tubing plays a crucial role in industrial processes of all kinds, but it is especially important in environmental technology. Without precision engineered glass tubing, manufacturers of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants would struggle to compete with fossil fuels, while glass is also a key part of the photobioreactors used in creating the fuels of the future via algae cultivation.
The green economy is set to grow rapidly in the near future, so we anticipate new uses and surging demand for borosilicate glass tubing. There’s no better time to get to know how sustainable businesses are putting glass to good use, so let’s look at these technologies in a bit more detail.
Glass tubing is integral to the expansion of the solar industry. In this case, the main role of borosilicate glass is in absorber and receiver tubes, which transport heated fluid away from solar arrays. Because their relatively low reflectivity and excellent thermal properties, these tubes can make efficient use of sunlight directed onto them, and transport the heat generated with minimal losses. And the less energy you lose, the cheaper solar electricity becomes, helping us all to reduce our carbon emissions.
Glass is also used in solar mirrors, which reflect sunlight onto receiver tubes. These mirrors tend to be incredibly thin, and are engineered to reflect as much solar energy as possible, raising the intensity of sunlight to as much as 30 times its normal level.
Precision engineered glass tubing has another really important application in the sustainable energy sector: helping to cultivate algae. Algal fuel has been highlighted as one of the most promising alternatives to oil, and companies like BP and Exxon have poured money into industrial-scale cultivation. Along the way, glass has been an essential ally, allowing them to achieve impressive efficiency improvements in a relatively short period.
In this context, glass tubing forms part of what are known as photobioreactors. These systems tend to use closed containers, where the conditions can be calibrated to meet the needs of algae, from the level of CO2 in the tubing, to the temperature and nutrients supplied for the algae to consume.
But these photobioreactors can’t use conventional glass. They need to be resilient enough to withstand environmental stresses and cleaning, they have to be UV-stable and chemically stable, and it helps if they have excellent salt resistance as well. Borosilicate glass tubing can deliver those properties, which is why leading biofuel manufacturers have found it so useful.
Photobioreactors and solar collectors are far from the only cutting edge applications of glass tubes. In fact, you’ll find high-end glass components in a huge variety of industrial systems. From chemical plants to medical research labs, and from power plants to food manufacturing hubs, glass delivers the kind of thermal properties, resilience and stability that manufacturers require.
Engineered glass capsule anchors, also named chemical anchors, have also found a vital role in the environmental and industrial world. These tiny glass components contain a mixture of resin and hardening agents, and provide a way to fasten rods or bars in place without the need for the use of chisel points.
Suitable for use in large-scale civil engineering or small-scale projects like solar installations, they anchor parts securely and reliably. The beauty of these glass and chemical-based capsule anchors is that they reduce the stress resulting from their installation, helping to retain the integrity of concrete or masonry, and extending the lifespan of structures in the process. Also underwater these can be applied.