Environmental Technology Award Baden-Württemberg 2023

Glassomer GmbH in Freiburg receives the jury's special prize for its low-temperature process for molding quartz glass

The award ceremony took place on October 24, 2023 in the Schwabenlandhalle in Fellbach.

State Secretary Dr. Andre Baumann: "The fact that quartz glass can be manufactured and molded so energy-efficiently using the Glassomer process is an excellent example of how energy-intensive industries can benefit from innovations."

Classically, glass is melted, shaped and finished. The melting point of high-purity quartz glass is around 1,800 degrees Celsius, and since the melts have to be kept at a constant temperature, the process as a whole is very energy-intensive. The Glassomer process can be used to form glass on the basis of injection molding technology, as used in the processing of plastics. Temperatures of up to a maximum of 130 degrees Celsius are used. The manufacturing process using Glassomer technology requires up to 60 percent less energy than conventional methods.

State Secretary Dr. Andre Baumann: "The Glassomer process is convincing because it makes glass available without melting and post-processing - and it does so in an energy-efficient, simple, fast and virtually any shape."

“As a scientist, I am always happy when fundamental research leads to applications that have the potential to make important contributions to the great challenges of our time,” says Prof. Dr. Bastian E. Rapp, Professor of Process Technology at the University of Freiburg and co-founder of Glassomer.

Quartz glass - superior to standard glass

The granules are produced from glass particles left over as waste from the manufacture of glass fibers. High-purity quartz glass produced from this material is superior to standard glass in many respects: from its high thermal, mechanical and chemical resistance to its transparency. Due to the degrees of freedom in shaping that are only made possible by injection molding, quartz glass can be used for completely new applications, such as lenses for LEDs. Their emission is concentrated on ever smaller areas, which overtaxes the temperature stability of previous plastic lenses. In addition, quartz glass is permeable to UV irradiation, making the lenses suitable for use in UV LEDs, which are used to sterilize surfaces. Another new area of application is microstructured glass surfaces, which increase the efficiency of solar cells because they reflect less sunlight.

Many new application possibilities

Glassomer GmbH is currently using the patented process to produce prototypes and 6 to 7 figure component series of high-quality quartz glass parts. In the long run, the complete process is to be made available to the market. "Our concern was and is to make quartz glass accessible to new applications," said Dr. Dorothea Helmer, managing director at Glassomer. "The potential to use it industrially is there with our process because it is economical, conserves resources and does not use toxic chemicals."

About the Baden-Württemberg Environmental Technology Award

The Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg awards the Baden-Württemberg Environmental Technology Prize every two years. The prize is to be awarded for outstanding and innovative products and processes in environmental technology.

The prize money amounts to 100,000 euros and is divided among four categories and a special jury prize. The categories are divided into "Energy Efficiency", "Material Efficiency", "Emission Reduction, Processing and Separation" and "Measurement and Control Technology, Industry 4.0". The jury's special prize is awarded to a product within the four categories and is based on current environmental challenges and technical requirements.

Companies with their headquarters or a branch office in Baden-Württemberg are eligible to participate. The award is given to products that make a significant contribution to resource efficiency and environmental protection and are about to be launched on the market or have been on the market for no longer than two years.

Unlike the Environmental Award, which the ministry has been presenting since 1993, the Environmental Technology Award focuses on a product or process and its particular environmental performance capabilities rather than on internal company processes.

About Glassomer GmbH

Glassomer GmbH is a young company with roots at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Freiburg. The development of the energy-efficient manufacturing processes is based on years of cutting-edge research in Baden-Württemberg. Glassomer specializes in the production of technical and optical components made of high-purity glass, such as lenses, lens arrays and microfluidic chips, as well as glass 3D printing.


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bastian E. Rapp
Laboratory of Process Technology | Neptun Lab
Univerity of Freiburg
Department of Microsystems Engineering – IMTEK
E-Mail: bastian.rapp@imtek.uni-freiburg.de

Kerstin Steiger-Merx
Representative PR/Marketing
Faculty of Engineering
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-8056
E-Mail: steiger-merx@tf.uni-freiburg.de