Defect of the Month

February, 2023
Grapes of Wrath
Like the John Steinbeck novel of the same title, this colorized SEM image has virtually nothing to do with grapes. When an organic (i.e. carbonaceous) material such as rubber, oil, or grease enters a bottle in the hot-end of a glass plant, temperatures in excess of 700°C cause it to instantly combust. Under some conditions, soot particles can be produced due to the condensation of vaporized organic matter. The spherical soot particles in this image (blue/purple) were created by combustion of an organic contaminant inside of a glass bottle. The radiating needle-like clusters (brown) are composed of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), likely due to sodium in the burning material. The background (green) is an amorphous carbonized residue.
January, 2023
Drop of Gold
Glass can be produced in a kaleidoscope of colors through the inclusion of small amounts of metal oxides in the glass composition. In the art glass industry, where color is paramount, exotic metals or metal oxides can be used that would be cost-prohibitive for food or beverage containers. Since the late Roman empire, gold has been known to create vivid red hues when added to glass. Although the host glass in this microscopic image is not red-colored, this particular stone is composed of excess gold that lingered in an art glass furnace from a prior batch.
December, 2022
Holiday Gemstone
The sparkly silver sphere in the center of this microscope image is the fractured surface of a silicon ball, a type of stone. Silicon balls are created when aluminum contamination of the cullet supply reacts with the molten glass, causing a chemical reaction that reduces the silica (SiO2) to silicon (Si). The red color of the glass is due to a painted decorative coating on the host bottle. Silicon balls are especially detrimental to container performance because they create extremely high induced stresses in the surrounding glass, often leading to spontaneous breakage of the item.
November, 2022
Snowball Fight
Bottle formation takes place in an Individual Section (I.S.) machine, which has with many moving parts. Mechanical equipment requires lubrication, including mold dopes, grease, and oil. When one of these lubricants comes into contact with hot glass, it pyrolyzes and burns down into a black carbon crust. In this microscope image, a crust of pyrolyzed lubricant from the inside bottom of a bottle is shown, indicating that excess lubricant was introduced into this hot bottle during formation. Since pyrolyzing destroys the original molecular bonds of the material, the use of FT-IR or other chemically sensitive analysis techniques were prevented and specific lubricant components could not be identified.
October, 2022
Shelob’s Lair
In the Lord of the Rings movie, Frodo is led by the treacherous Gollum into the lair of a giant spider. Fleeing in terror, he is entangled in the massive webs and narrowly avoids being eaten alive. Although on a much smaller scale, this SEM micrograph of a flaw in a cosmetics container resembles the lair of an arachnid. The unusual flaw likely resulted from a fold in the glass being pulled apart during container formation, causing strands of glass to stretch across the fissure. Based on its appearance, the flaw would likely be classified as a tear or an infolded lap mark.