Title:
Cold Seal Glass Block Utilizing Insulating Materials
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A glass block including an insulating material disposed with an interior chamber. The block includes a first block half, a second block half, and a frame. The frame is positioned between and aligns the first block half and the second block half so that the block halves and the frame define a complete enclosure. The frame holds at least two partitions inside the block. The partitions divide the interior of the block into a plurality of chambers including at least one interior chamber disposed between the partitions. An insulating material is disposed in the interior chamber between the partitions.



Inventors:
Badger, Steven Robert (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Application Number:
13/873731
Publication Date:
11/07/2013
Filing Date:
04/30/2013
Assignee:
Pittsburgh Corning Corporation (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/561
International Classes:
E04C1/42
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Foreign References:
JP2002191712A2002-07-10
JP2004068386A2004-03-04
Primary Examiner:
CHAPMAN, JEANETTE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Reed Smith LLP (Pittsburgh) (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A block comprising: a first block half; a second block half; and a frame, wherein the frame is positioned between and aligns the first block half and the second block half so that said block halves and said frame define a complete enclosure; wherein the frame holds at least two partitions inside said block and wherein said at least two partitions divide the interior of said block into a plurality of chambers including at least one interior chamber disposed between the at least two partitions wherein an insulating material is disposed in the at least one interior chamber.

2. The block of claim 1, wherein the insulating material permits light transmission.

3. The block of claim 1, wherein the insulating material is a material selected from the group consisting of powder, particle, gel, and blanket.

4. The block of claim 1, wherein the insulating material is a translucent material selected from the group consisting of aerogel and microporous silica.

5. The block of claim 1, wherein the at least two partitions are formed from insulating material.

6. The block of claim 5, wherein the insulating material forming the at least two partitions is the same insulating material disposed in the at least one interior chamber.

7. The block of claim 5, wherein the insulating material forming the at least two partitions comprises an aerogel blanket.

8. The block of claim 1, wherein the at least two partitions allow visible light to pass through said block while limiting transmission of radiant energy through said block.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C.§119(e) of the earlier filing date of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/641,461 filed on May 2, 2012, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to glass blocks and glass block panel assemblies with improved thermal and solar heat gain resistance.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Glass blocks manufactured today get many of their durable physical attributes from the fact that they are sealed when the glass is very hot. Molten glass at the edges of the half-blocks comes together in the manufacturing process and form a hermetic seal. Because of the heat involved in the process, most of the moisture is removed from the atmosphere inside of the block. The result is a glass block that will have frost points that are typically near zero degrees Fahrenheit.

There have been many efforts to modify glass blocks or manufacture them differently for both decorative and performance purposes. Two of the most critical performance characteristics for energy efficiency are (1) reducing heat gain from radiant solar energy and thermal conductivity primarily in hotter climates, and (2) reducing heat loss through thermal conductivity in colder climates. To reduce thermal conductivity between the inside and outside of a building, a “thermal break” can be introduced into the glass block so that heat cannot travel directly through the glass. To further improve energy efficiency, material can be introduced inside the block to create pockets of air that reduce the effects of convection. Materials introduced into the block or coatings applied to interior faces of the block can be used to reduce radiant energy transmission.

Examples of glass blocks having partitions are disclosed in US 2010/0139191 to Atherton and US 2012/0176805 to Rogers et al., the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference herein.

Accordingly, embodiments of the invention to provide improved thermal and solar heat gain resistance through the addition of an insulating material within a glass block unit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The disclosure herein describes a cold seal glass block structure and assembly that is includes an insulating material that will improve energy efficiency over the prior art while improving quality, reliability, and cost.

In traditional glass block manufacture, symmetric half glass blocks are pressed individually and then fused together by heating the edges to melting temperature while squeezing them together to hermetically seal them. Sealed blocks are then put through a long annealing process to insure mechanical strength. Quality half glass blocks can be made by pressing the half blocks using molten glass and then bypassing the sealing operation and completing the annealing process. Once cooled, the half glass blocks can be used to make the cold sealed glass blocks. The cold sealed glass blocks may be filled or partially filled with an insulating material.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a cold seal glass block is made by assembling the two half glass blocks and the insulating frame with optionally one or more rigid materials. Depending on the frame material, materials will be used to hold the block together structurally and to seal the block enclosure from moisture getting into the block cavity. Desiccated materials may be used as needed to absorb latent moisture inside the cavity. Desiccated materials may take the form of sealants, granules, tape or be part of the frame or partition materials themselves. Block materials may also be preheated before assembly to remove ambient moisture and to improve adhesion between sealants and adjoining materials. When more than one rigid material is utilized, an insulating particulate may be placed between the layers of rigid materials. In this manner, an insulating product such as aerogel powders, granules, or blankets may be placed within the glass block unit to provide improved thermal and solar heat gain resistance.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

For the present invention to be clearly understood and readily practiced, the present invention will be described in conjunction with the following figures, wherein like reference characters designate the same or similar elements, which figures are incorporated into and constitute a part of the specification, wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a cross-section view of one embodiment of the present invention where two partitions are utilized. Within this configuration, a low thermal conductivity product could be added either with a partition and/or as a partition.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-section view of one embodiment of the present invention where three partitions are utilized. Within this configuration, a low thermal conductivity product could be added either with a partition and/or as a partition.

FIG. 3 illustrates basic components of two half glass blocks and the frame with a partition.

FIG. 4 illustrates an assembled embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

It is to be understood that the figures and descriptions of the present invention have been simplified to illustrate elements that are relevant for a clear understanding of the invention. The more detailed description will be provided hereinbelow with reference to the attached drawings.

With reference to FIGS. 1-4, an embodiment of the invention 1 includes a frame 3 holding at least two partitions 4 and enclosed by two half glass blocks 2. An insulating material 5 is disposed in at least one interior chamber 6A formed between the at least two partitions 4. It is preferable that the insulating material be translucent so that it permits light transmission therethrough. The insulating material may be in the form of a powder, particle, gel, or blanket. The insulating may be an aerogel or a microporous silica or other translucent material. The at least two partitions 4 may be formed from insulating material which may be the same insulating material disposed in the at least one interior chamber 6A formed between the at least two partitions 4.

Although half glass blocks can be made by cutting a glass block in half, the preferred embodiment is composed of half blocks without the fracture points that can be left by cutting glass with a saw, water jet, or laser. In one embodiment, half glass blocks are made by pressing the half blocks and then annealing them. Once cooled, the half glass blocks can be used to make the cold sealed glass block.

The frame 3 can be made of any appropriate material that conforms to the joining edge of the half glass blocks so that they will fit snugly when assembled together and is preferably formed from aluminum. Window insulated glass units (IGUs) have been using thermoplastic compounds to make spacers that insulate between panes of glass for many years, and more recently have been using insulating silicone foam to make window spacers. Both materials can incorporate a desiccant to absorb moisture inside of the IGU. The embodiment of the frame 3 may use a similar material to gain the insolating and desiccating properties as used in IGUs.

Each partition 4 is a material that is contained by the frame 3, and serves to subdivide the glass block 1 into chambers 6 including interior chambers 6A formed between the at least two partitions 4. Introducing a partition makes the resulting chambers narrower and also allows for a smaller portion of insulating product to be added within the block. The partitions 4 may be either formed from a rigid material or an insulating material such as an aerogel blanket.

Energy efficiency in the window industry has benefited greatly by the use of low-emissivity materials. The materials allow the passage of light in the visible spectrum while filtering out rays in the infrared spectrum, which means that we can see light through the materials while thermal radiation is inhibited. The best performing material in use today for thermal efficiency and visible light transmission is glass with a low-emissivity soft-coat, which is selected as a possible embodiment of the partition. The soft-coat glass is more challenging to handle in manufacturing and is more susceptible to damage from moisture, however, so hard coated glass, Mylar, solar films or low-emissivity coatings on the inside glass block faces could be alternatives, depending on the desired result. Alternatively, the partition 4 can be made of polycarbonate or the same insulating material disposed between the partitions such as an aerogel blanket material.

In order to hold the block assembly together and insure a good seal against moisture intrusion, various sealant and adhesive combinations can be used. For the locations where glass edges of the half blocks contact the outer edge of the frame, a strong adhesive that can also help seal from moisture intrusion may be utilized. This is common practice in the IGU industry. It may also be desirable to have a secondary seal over the outer frame edge as is common practice in the IGU industry. One material commonly used in IGUs as a secondary seal is a butyl formulation, but could use a hot-melt butyl that cures. It is a sealant used in more structural IGUs like sliding doors. It offers better moisture resistance, more structural strength, and it cures, thereby making it less susceptible to deformation or failure at higher temperatures.

Nothing in the above description is meant to limit the invention to any specific materials, geometry, or orientation of elements. Many parts/orientation substitutions are contemplated within the scope of the invention and will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The embodiments described herein were presented by way of example only and should not be used to limit the scope of the invention.

Although the invention has been described in terms of particular embodiments in an application, one of ordinary skill in the art, in light of the teachings herein, can generate additional embodiments and modifications without departing from the spirit of, or exceeding the scope of, the claimed invention. Accordingly, it is understood that the drawings and the descriptions herein are proffered only to facilitate comprehension of the invention and should not be construed to limit the scope thereof.





 
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