Implementing new technologies to improve the environmental performance of its glass manufacturing process has helped Vitro Architectural Glass accelerate the growth of its Fresno, CA, plant, the company says.
Process improvements include furnace operation. In 2014 the float glass tank was relined and a new furnace was installed. Operated with Vitro-owned and patented technology, the furnace uses oxygen to combust sand, silica and other raw materials, reducing natural gas consumption by 15%, carbon emissions by 10% and NOx emissions by more than 50% compared to traditional gas/air-fired glass furnaces. The Fresno plant is one of only six flat glass production facilities worldwide to use this process in its manufacturing operations, according to the company.
That summer, the plant started manufacturing Starphire Ultra-Clear glass with oxy-fuel furnace technology. Starphire glass is believed to be the only ultra-low-iron glass in the world manufactured on an oxy-fuel float glass line, the company says.
The facility continues to explore ways to improve efficiency and be an environmental steward, according to Javier Gutierrez, plant manager. “We’ve made excellent progress improving our furnace operation, and we’ve made numerous upgrades throughout the plant to ensure that we’re safe, productive and efficient,” explained Gutierrez. The company is continuing to look at how to improve its processes and develop increasingly sustainable manufacturing methods.
The clear glass and Starphire glass produced at the Fresno plant meet the requirements of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program.
Starphire glass was used in an installation in an outdoor plaza in Sandpoint Idaho as part of a pilot project to demonstrate their durability and strength under everyday foot and bicycle traffic. Low-wattage, energy-producing tempered glass solar panels (manufactured by Solar Roadways), topped with Starphire glass, were installed in a pedestrian area in the plaza. Each panel, embedded with 340 LED lights, displays messages, patterns, or traffic lines.
The Solar Roadway panels are designed to reduce electrical costs by collecting and storing solar energy that is converted to alternating current (AC) energy. With a visible light transmittance of 84% and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.82, Starphire glass by Vitro Glass maximizes the solar transmission of the panels, the company says.
Another product, Vitro Glass’s Solarban solar control glass, was used in Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus due to its ability to transmit high levels of natural daylight while diminishing solar heat gain. The glass was selected to be part of the campus’s high-performance building envelopes.
Getting It Done: Vendors mentioned above
- Vitro Architectural Glass
- Solar Roadways
Pictured above: University of Illinois, Nathan Newmark Civil Engineering Building