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David Soyka reports on the company’s latest advances in lightweight glazing and solar control for automotive glass that can help automakers meet global emissions and fuel economy standards.
Many companies make claim to being transparent. What Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) makes is totally transparent.
It has to be, or otherwise you couldn’t see where you’re going.
As its name already explains, PGW is a Pittsburgh-based (since its inception 133 years ago) glass manufacturer, specifically automotive glass. Chances are that the windshield, windows and/or sunroof you’re looking out of is a PGW product.
“We have a long history of providing automotive OEMs and aftermarket suppliers with innovative, quality products,” explains Mukesh Rustagi, director of strategic product management. “That longstanding relationship is why PGW is the primary auto glass supplier in North America.”
Which isn’t to say that PGW isn’t seeing further potential across its borders, “We’ve always been a global company in the sense that we supplied the global products of our OEM customers from North America,” Rustagi says. “However, in the last seven years or so we’ve expanded our international presence with sales and distribution offices as well as fabrication centers to serve Europe and China.”
PGW innovations in high performance auto glass make it a welcome global partner as automakers in these areas of the world strive to improve vehicle emissions and fuel standards, which in some cases are stricter than in the U.S. Glass, particularly with the addition of a sunroof, makes a sizeable contribution towards a vehicle’s weight. The higher a vehicle’s weight, the higher the fuel consumption to propel it. Moreover, glass allows sunlight into the cabin that heats the cabin, activating air conditioning during warmer months; increased use of air conditioning increases pollutant emissions and expends energy.
Two new advances in lightweight glazing and solar control for automotive glass, recently announced at this past April’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress, were specifically designed to help automakers meet increasingly stringent global emissions and fuel economy standards. According to Rustagi, “Solar and lightweight glazing have a direct impact on improving fuel economy and emissions. By using thinner glazing compositions offered by PGW in a vehicle’s windshield, sunroof, side windows and rear window, weight can be reduced by up to 20 kilograms over standard glass while maintaining the same performance standards for acoustics, thermal load reduction, structure strength and aesthetics. The technologies are especially helpful for hybrid and electric vehicles that require more energy to provide air conditioning and heating, which limits driving range on an electrical charge; because our glass solutions lower energy expenditure, they directly improve an electric or hybrid vehicle’s driving range.”
Solar Performance That’s Stellar
Infrared (IR) reflective technologies in PGW’s solar glazing reduce the thermal load of glass. “Infrared light radiation causes a rise in temperature,” Rustagi explains. “Our solar glazing reflects more IR, which means you don’t have to use as much air conditioning to keep the cabin climate comfortable. The value add here is that in addition to lower energy consumption, which improves fuel efficiency and emissions, automakers can claim the maximum allowable off-cycle emissions credits for glazing established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That’s 3 grams per mile for cars and 4.3 grams per mile for light duty trucks.” Off-cycle credits are given to technologies that aren’t subject to the standard 2-cycle engine test (e.g., IR glass glazing as well as high efficiency exterior lighting, active seat ventilation and engine stop/start) that count toward the reduction of carbon dioxide requirements for model years 2017 to 2025.
“The challenge with solar glazing is that while you are looking to block out one end of the light spectrum, IR, you still have to allow at least 70 percent of the visible light spectrum through,” Rustagi notes. “At the same time, we’re looking to make not only the glazing itself as thin and lightweight as possible, but the construction of the glass itself. The beauty of thinner construction combined with heat-reducing glazing is you lower the weight of the product and increase its energy efficiency, both of which have a direct bearing on greenhouse emissions and fuel consumption.”
Building a Better Lighter Windshield
Lighter weight is achieved through a new, hybrid construction technique using Aluminosilicate and Soda-Lime laminates with thin tempered glass. “Essentially you’ve got a standard windshield that is five millimeters at its thickest point,” Rustagi says. “The lightweight windshield would be about 3.6 mm thick. That’s a 30 percent reduction compared to standard windshield construction. And without allowing more sound to come in. Ordinarily, the thinner the glass, the more exterior noise it allows. However, with our technology we’ve managed to preserve the acoustics you would normally get from thicker glass.”
This first-of-its-kind windshield application is currently installed in the Ford GT Supercar and Telsa Model X. The windshield is fabricated at PGW’s Berea, Ky. plant.
Rustagi notes that PGW was chosen to supply this advanced windshield after more than a year of development. “Basically, the OEM sets the standards for PGW to supply. Once we demonstrate the effectiveness of this windshield and glazing solution in these vehicles, the product may get adopted more widely as an effective approach to reduce weight, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, all without compromising safety and performance.”
“PGW is the leader in glazing technologies,” Rustagi points out. “We continue to develop lightweight solutions using a vast array of compositions and technologies to fulfill the needs of all automotive segments. To give you just one example, we’re developing windshields with an embedded heating element to automatically remove frost and fog. There is a windshield on the market that does something similar, but the drawback is the heating element consists of wires that are visibly distracting, and the element doesn’t cover all of the glass. The result is you still have parts of the windshield that are not cleared. With our solution, the entire windshield is heated, not just most of it.”
He adds, “Crucial to establishing and maintaining a position as a preferred partner and market leader is the ability to anticipate tomorrow’s requirements and expectations. Our commitment to total customer satisfaction is to provide what customers want and work closely with them to better understand what they need.”