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Volume 5 / Issue 2
Glass from Steel
In Pennsylvania, a historic furnace located on Bullion Run has partially collapsed, exposing the inside layers of rocks and liners used in the furnace construction. Operating from 1843 to 1856, this furnace employed local farmers in the off-season to smelt iron ore. The iron “pigs” were then floated down the creek to Pittsburgh.
While hiking recently, AGR Senior Scientist, Dr. Brandon Aldinger came across fragments of black, grey, green, and blue glass scattered around the disintegrating structure. Referred to as “slag,” this glass was a waste product of iron ore smelting.
Although high quality iron ore contains a large percentage of iron oxide, it also contains minerals composed of sulfides, carbonates, silicates, and other metallic oxides. During smelting, most of the sulfur and carbon are converted into gases. The metallic iron sinks to the bottom of the furnace, leaving behind silicates and other oxides that float on top of the melt. In the past, this “slag” was a useless waste product.
Back in the 1940s it was realized that slag could be recycled as an important raw material for glass production since it has a glassy composition high in silica (SiO2), alumina (Al2O3), calcia (CaO), and magnesia (MgO) – essential oxides in the soda-lime glass used for containers. In particular, the mined raw materials for alumina (feldspar or nepheline syenite) are relatively expensive, making slag an attractive alternative source even today.
Slag has other benefits. Similar to cullet, re-melting slag takes less energy than starting from raw materials. In addition, all of the volatile elements have already been driven off. If slag is used to replace raw materials in the batch, a net decrease in NOx, SOx, and CO2 emissions can be realized. Slag is especially useful for amber glass as the extra iron and sulfur are needed to create the Fe3+/S2- chromophore that results in amber colored glass.
At AGR’s analytical laboratory in Maumee, Ohio, we regularly analyze slag. The composition of slag must be accurately determined in order to calculate the correct batch formula. To yield the best results, slag is analyzed via wet chemical analysis rather than XRF spectroscopy. In this way, AGR helps with recycling a waste product from the steel industry into new glass containers.
Do you have raw materials to analyze?  Please call Neal Nichols, the manager of our analytical laboratory in Maumee, Ohio at +1-419-897-9000 with your project or CONTACT US.

We are pleased to announce that Patrick Goossens has joined the AGR Testing Laboratory team in Delft, the Netherlands as a Research Scientist.

Patrick's main areas of responsibility include glass forming issues, manufacturing audits and fracture diagnosis.  He will also have considerable involvement with internal research projects and technical papers as they relate to container manufacturing and container performance.  

Patrick has over twenty years of experience with a leading manufacturer of glass packaging for the food and beverage industry.  Patrick graduated from NCOI Business School, Rotterdam and holds a VAPRO degree in Process Technology.

If you would like to contact Patrick, email him at:

Glass Worldwide Magazine has just published an AGR White Paper written by Peter de Haan and Gary Smay entitled “Scratching of glass by metals: The hardness question revisited”.

The white paper presents the results of investigations that show soft as well as hard metals can create damage on glass surfaces.
If you would like to download this paper from our White Paper Library, click HERE.

Did you know...  

Glasses are capable of every color in the rainbow, but red-colored glasses are among the most desirable and difficult to create. Some “ruby” glasses are made by carefully controlled additions to the glassmelt. Since the late 1600’s the color red  was commonly created by the use of gold salts or gold particles.

More recently, a bright red color has been achieved by the addition of selenium and cadmium sulfide. On occasion flint glass is “surface coated” to appear to be red.

Do you have questions about glass or glass breakage?  ASK OUR EXPERTS.



AGR’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Wenke Hu, who oversees AGR’s glass container Design Services, including conceptual container design, Lightweighting and rapid prototyping development. He has also lead the expansion of the AGR bottle design program, a full, immersive product development service.

Additionally, Dr. Hu has also been involved in multiple internal AGR projects that relate to container design, container performance and glass innovation. He has published multiple White Papers in Glass Worldwide Magazine.

Dr. Hu joined AGR in 2012 and holds a Doctorate degree in Mechanical and Material Engineering from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He, his wife and two boys are avid Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers and Pirates fans.

Contact Dr. Hu to discuss your unique container design needs


"The AGR training on Fracture 1 - Testing and Breakage Diagnosis of Glass Container was very interesting and useful for me. It was 3 intense days and lots of learning. Certainly, now I look in a different way to a break of glass bottle! Surely I  recommend the AGR trainings. All the organization and AGR support  during the course was very good."
Teresa Anjos
Qualidade Ambiente e Segurança
Serviços Técnicos

Training Updates:
Due to our first “Fracture 1: Testing and Breakage Diagnosis” Training Seminar in Ammersee, Germany filling to capacity and continued strong response to our new location, a second one is being offered Sept 17-19. The seminar will be conducted on Lake Ammersee, located outside of Munich.

Our "Fracture 3: Glass Fracture Diagnostician Certification" Seminar will be offered twice in the second half. First in Krakow, Poland October 2-5 and then in Butler, PA December 4-7. Successful completion of AGR's Fracture 1 and 2 are prerequisites. CLICK to learn more.

Visit GLASS TRAINING on our website to see our scheduled dates and locations as well as to read more about all of our open enrollment training seminars. Or CONTACT US to discuss private training at your location.
American Glass Research
603 Evans City Road, Butler, PA 16001
Tel: +1 (724) 482-2163
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American Glass Research · 603 Evans City Road · Butler, PA 16001 · USA

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