Scientists have for the first time visualized the transformation of powder mixtures into molten glass. A better understanding of this process will make it possible to produce high quality glass at lower temperatures, leading to significant energy savings in industrial glass manufacturing. The results are published in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society.

The scientists set out to understand what exactly happens at the different stages of the transformation from powder to molten glass. For their experiment, they used mixtures of raw materials similar to that for making industrial window glass: two-thirds silica sand and one-third of sodium and calcium carbonates.

To make visible chemical reactions between individual grains, the scientists used X-ray microtomography, a technique allowing visualizing in real time changes in shape and positions of all grains in a given volume. These changes are probed by a fine, intense beam of X-rays sent through the sample.

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