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From Brendan Schweigart

New York State announces $2.5 million funding for Alfred University Center for Glass Innovation

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New York State has announced plans to provide $2.5 million in new funding to support a collaboration with Alfred University aimed at expanding glass recycling markets throughout the state. The funding has been added to the $1.7 million the state previously awarded to Alfred University’s Center for Glass Innovation in 2021 supporting the Center’s ongoing work on glass production, recycling, and reuse projects.

Friday’s announcement from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office builds on New York State’s close partnership with the State University of New York (SUNY) to develop strategies that advance more sustainable materials management practices. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has committed more than $20 million in funding for work already underway with the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, University at Buffalo, Stony Brook University, and the College of Environmental Science and Forestry to innovate the reduction of waste and make New York more resilient to future market disruptions.

The Center for Glass Innovation (CGI) was announced in 2021 as a nation-leading collaboration between New York State and the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University to bolster markets for recycled glass and improve the quality of glass available for recovery throughout the state.  A significant emphasis of the CGI is on developing new high-performance materials, low-cost feedstock alternatives, and energy efficient manufacturing processes that result in a reduction of the glass manufacturing industry’s carbon footprint.

The CGI’s first major initiative—a collaboration with the DEC announced two years ago—is using $1.7 million in initial funding from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund over a three-year period to research ways New York State-based glass manufacturers can increase their utilization of recycled glass. It is anticipated that this will result in a significant reduction in the amount of glass currently going to landfills, specifically by improving the quality of glass cullet for reuse and recovery. The additional $2.5 million in state funding builds upon these efforts.

“As a sustainability and recycling researcher, this work is extra special to me personally,” said Dr. Gabrielle Gaustad ’04, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, said of the work being done at the Center for Glass Innovation. “I am so thrilled about the progress we have made on glass recycling and reuse to date, particularly some of the innovative uses for low quality cullet that our glass science undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff have developed.  Extending this work should provide many opportunities for scale-up and technology transfer within New York State and beyond.”

Glass Science Engineering faculty and students at Alfred University are leading research efforts at the Center for Glass Innovation. Projects being undertaken at the CGI include using materials manufactured from recycled or upcycled municipal waste glass and other industrial streams in the creation of seawalls on Long Island to help prevent future flooding intensified by sea-level rise. Alfred University glass science researchers are collaborating with U.S.-based company Silica-X to develop a novel cement fortified with waste glass particles that can be used to make concrete used in seawall construction.

Alfred University is one of the preeminent glass science education and research institutions in the country. Since the New York State College of Ceramics glass science and engineering degree was established in 1932, thousands of graduates have found successful positions at the forefront of materials discovery, glass processing, and manufacturing.

“Alfred University is the only higher education institution in the country to offer glass engineering and science programs at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels,” said Mark Zupan, Alfred University president, noting research by Alfred University alumni and faculty which have created such innovations as Gorilla Glass; the highly-durable Valor Glass vials used to distribute COVID vaccines; the ability to transmit voice and data by fiberoptic cable; and the means to 3D print buildings using recycled glass. “Through the leadership of the dean of our Inamori School of Engineering, Dr. Gabrielle Gaustad, we are proud and grateful to partner with the State of New York to enhance the ability to recycle glass—an important objective toward promoting sustainability globally and delivering innovations to serve people everywhere.”

Last week, AU had some great news about how a program with the DEC is innovating multiple industries:

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