SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2009 > Environmental Protection

Photo: Shotshop

More Green for the Future

SCHOTT is systematically expanding its ecological commitment by offering environmentally friendly products.

Christine Fuhr

Green is gaining ground, not only for ecological and environmental, but also for competitive and image reasons. Trend scouts are noticing a “greenobalization”, as well as growing environmental consciousness all over the world. One thing is clear: the mass production techniques of the past consume a lot of energy and resources and are under immense pressure to become more innovative. At the political level, directives and ordinances like the chemicals act REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), and EURO standards on cars and recycling of electronic devices for Europe are setting new environmental standards and thus accelerating the development of more environmentally friendly products.
Special types of glass products, glass-ceramics and other high-tech materials often perform key functions in future technologies. This means companies have responsibilities to customers, employees, society and the environment. Regardless of the legal requirements that apply, the SCHOTT technology group has been setting the highest standards for itself in the area of sustainable environmental and climate protection for many years already. The result: melting tank exhaust gases are already more than 99.5 percent free of dust. Nitrogen oxide emissions are now 75 percent lower than they were in 1990, the specific energy consumption per ton of glass has declined by over a quarter and freshwater consumption has been reduced by more than 80 percent, thanks to recycling measures. Heating up the melting tanks with natural gas/oxygen (oxy-fuel) or electric power has lowered emissions even further.
Photos: SCHOTT
Yet another environmental advantage: 98 percent of the shards are recycled. At the internal level, an Integrated Management System on Safety and Environmental Protection (IMSU) that ensures that the same standards for occupational safety, environmental protection, preventive healthcare and emergency management apply for SCHOTT sites all over the world has been around since 1995. These even exceed the legal requirements in some countries. In addition to developing more energy-efficient (melting) technologies, reducing energy consumption, resources and production-related emissions, manufacturing environmentally compatible products is receiving greater attention.

“Project Green” from the Research and Technology department at SCHOTT focuses specifically on assessing environmental policy regulations, such as REACH and RoHS (Restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances). “We analyze current and future environmental legislation and requirements, anticipate their execution and evaluate them with respect to whether they can be realized in terms of technology and materials science,” explains project manager Dr. Jochen Alkemper. He says the goal is also to identify opportunities for green products and develop innovative green solutions that even exceed the legal requirements. By avoiding the use of raw materials that are harmful to the environment and doing without arsenic and antimony during the purification process, for example. Or by optimizing the production process by attempting to save energy. But also by pointing out limitations. The objective of this project is to act as a pioneer in the development of materials and processes that are as environmentally friendly as possible and thus encourage the development of these types of products.

”More than one third of the patents filed can be categorized as environmentally relevant.”

Thomas Harbach, head of the SCHOTT patent department

SCHOTT is driving the further development of ecologically compatible products: Photovoltaic modules from SCHOTT Solar, for example, enable environmentally friendly power generation. Besides, there are already eco-versions of products in areas like fire-resistant, thin and optical glasses, as well as SCHOTT Ceran® glass-ceramic cooktop panels. Photos: SCHOTT

Eco products have already been developed

SCHOTT has already implemented a process on the consistent (further) development of environmentally friendly materials, products and techniques on a company-wide basis. For instance, eco-glasses are being offered in a number of different product segments.

In the Home Tech division, for example, Ceran Suprema® and Ceran Hightrans® eco, the world’s first and currently only glass-ceramic cooktop panels manufactured without adding the toxic heavy metals arsenic and antimony, truly set a milestone in the area of environmental friendliness (see solutions 02/2008). A superlative product in two different respects was developed especially for the u.s. market: Pyran® Platinum is the world’s first transparent floated glass-ceramic to ever be manufactured without using the environmentally harmful heavy metals arsenic, antimony and barium.
SCHOTT began extracting the dust from glass melting tanks in Mainz in 1978. Ten years later, the exhaust air from the smokestacks was already 99 percent free of dust. Photo: SCHOTT
The Optics division made the switch with respect to its line-up of optical glasses more than 10 years ago by introducing 66 glasses that contain neither lead nor arsenic. All of the glasses that have been developed since then are also free of both lead and arsenic. And lead-free materials are also being used in fiber optic applications in the dental field. In the area of Electronics & Biotech, many different thin glasses that contain either no or no more than the legally permissible levels of purification agents like arsenic and antimony are either under development or already on the market under the name “Eco-glass”: AF 32® eco, for instance, a non-alkaline thin glass for wafers, D263® T eco, a scratch-resistant filter glass for camera lenses in cell phones and touch sensitive screens that is free of hazardous substances, and D263® M eco as a cover glass for use in microscopy. Other eco-products are either under ­development or in the product pipeline in the areas of both fiber optics, as well as glass-ceramics for Robax® fireplace viewing panels. Here, a special infrared (IR) coating helps to achieve even more efficient combustion and lower emission levels in devices that are already far superior to open fireplaces.
With “green” products, for example, no substances that are harmful to the environment are used during melting and arsenic and antimony are not used during the purification process. Photo: SCHOTT
Together with the associations that represent the European glass industry, SCHOTT is currently pointing out that glass is basically harmless to both human beings and the environment in order to obtain an exemption from the complicated registration that the EU plans. All SCHOTT products meet today’s legislative requirements. The company’s broad spectrum of activities is also reflected by the registration of patents. “More than one third of the patents filed can be categorized as environmentally relevant,” says the head of the SCHOTT patent department Thomas Harbach. Glasses and components from SCHOTT also contribute towards (alternative) generation and conservation of power. Receivers for solar thermal power plants that are to be put to use as a core technology as part of the Desertec project are but one example. Photo­voltaic modules, glasses that offer protection from solar radiation and insulation glasses, LED rather than energy-intensive halogen light sources for fiber optic lighting solutions, glassy sealing materials for high temperature fuel cells or energy- saving flat glass solutions for ovens and commercial refrigerators/freezers are yet other examples of such solutions. <|