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Corning looks to greener glass

Posted by iMark - 2006-03-29

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Corning Inc. is trying to do its part to ensure that future liquid crystal displays are not harmful to the environment.

Corning (Corning, N.Y.) has launched what it claims is the first LCD glass substrate free of heavy metals. Called Eagle XG, the glass is formulated without arsenic, antimony, and barium--- all metals often present in existing LCD glass formulations.

The company has for years been trying to phase out the use of heavy metals to achieve lighter, thinner glass, but now also believes the new glass formulation will help it keep with a tightening of environmental regulations associated with the impending Restrictions of the Use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.

"We’re doing this ahead of the curve," said Peter Bocko, division vice president and director of commercial technology for Corning’s Display Group, in an interview with EE Times in New York Friday.

Although the existing RoHS regulations do not specifically ban the export of LCD glass with heavy metals, Bocko believes the possibility exists of regulations requiring recycling of glass containing specific substances, or requiring suppliers to add documentation stating material content. Such regulations would add cost and complexity for both LCD panel and material suppliers, he stated.

Unlike CRT glass, LCD glass does not contain lead or mercury, two of the substances banned under the RoHS directive. Still, Bocko believes it is important for LCDs to be as environmentally clean as possible, particularly given that more glass will be required for the rapidly growing flat-panel TV market.

"TV has a lot to do with it," Bocko said, adding that recycling of products that use far less glass, such as cell phone displays, are not likely to receive as much scrutiny from authorities.

Bocko declined to divulge extensive details on the new glass formulation, but said key to the development was "understanding and minimizing the formation of bubbles during glass processing."

He added that other glass makers have attempted to produce environmentally pure glass—notably Japan’s Asahi Glass. Asahi’s glass is formulated through a flow rather than fusion process and uses no arsenic but has barium, Bocko said.

Eagle XG will be produced in Corning’s existing glass plants alongside its existing glass, according to Bocko. He said the production ramp-up of the metal-free glass would largely depend on customer interest.

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