Glass is a hard, brittle, transparent and amorphous inorganic material found in nature, although it can also be produced by humans. Artificial glass is used to make windows, lenses, bottles and a wide variety of products. Glass is a type of amorphous ceramic material.
Glass is made at about 1500 °C from four basic components: silica sand (SiO2), sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and limestone (CaCO3).
In some Spanish-speaking countries, the term "cristal" is often used as a synonym for glass, although this is strictly speaking incorrect because glass is an amorphous solid (its molecules are irregularly arranged) and not a crystalline solid.
Characteristics of glass
The main characteristics of glass are as follows:
- Inert and biologically inactive material.
- Hard, solid material.
- The density of glass is around 2,500 kg/m3.
- Fragile and easily broken.
- It has a disordered and amorphous structure.
- It is a transparent material for light visibility.
- It is a 100% recyclable material.
- The glass is malleable through different methods that allow to achieve a different finish such as tempered glass, annealed, thermo-acoustic, armoured, laminated or others.
Applications and uses
The main characteristics of glass (its transparency and hardness), despite the restrictions imposed by its main limitation (its fragility), make it an essential element in a large number of applications: automotive components, building façades, structural elements, thermal and acoustic insulation, energy production, optics, or its best known use, in packaging.
Glass recycling is the process by which waste glass is converted into materials that will be used to create new products. Glass is a 100% recyclable material and there is no limit to the number of times it can be recycled, as no properties are lost when it is recycled. In addition, it saves around 30% energy compared to new glass.
Glass can sometimes be reused before it is recycled, so it is not melted, but only reused by washing it (in containers). In glazing, glass can also be reused by re-cutting it.
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