Glass Microspheres

Production development

Rapid growth in the field of research of the world ocean in the middle of the past century was one of the basic incentives for development of the production of hollow glass microspheres (HGM).

The developers of the deep-submergence vehicles required state-of-the-art light-weight strong and water-resistant materials. Composites based on the HGM could, to a great extent, meet those requirements.

In the 1960s NPO Stekloplastic was the first company in Russia to develop a technology for the production of glass microspheres and to master the industrial production thereof. At present, our company is not only a producer of a wide range of HGM for various applications, but is continuing to perfect the structure and technology for the production thereof as well. 

Technology

Technology for HGM manufacture is a complex physical-chemical and hydrodynamical process taking place in the course of forming of hollow bubbles from glass melt micro-particles by blowing. For this, our scientists have developed special fine-dispersion multi-component glass powders capable, in melted state, to form micro-particles of predetermined volume. An accurate dosage of gas generating component into powder provides blowing of the melted particles into microspheres with required wall thickness.

Characteristics

Technology for HGM manufacture is a complex physical-chemical and hydrodynamical process taking place in the course of forming of hollow bubbles from glass melt micro-particles by blowing. For this, our scientists have developed special fine-dispersion multi-component glass powders capable, in melted state, to form micro-particles of predetermined volume. An accurate dosage of gas generating component into powder provides blowing of the melted particles into microspheres with required wall thickness.

Hollow glass microspheres are thin wall bubbles with a diameter of 20-160 mcm and wall thickness of less than 2 mcm.

Strength of the microspheres is estimated by value of hydrostatic-pressure at which not more than 10% of the microspheres fail. It is natural that heavier microspheres with thicker walls are stronger. 

The glass composition and almost regular shape of the microspheres provide a very high compressive strength, low water absorption, low heat conductivity and high chemical resistance.

The fields of application of HGM are very diverse:

  • The HGMs are widely used in paint and varnish industry as well as in the production of various sealants and mastics.
  • In petroleum industry, the addition of the microspheres to drilling mud intensifies the drilling process and considerably increases the life cycle of the drilling equipment. Besides, filling the cement mortars with the HGMs allows to make shrinkage-free heat-insulating quick-hardening material providing a reliable bond of the casing pipes and a shelf.
  • Introduction of the HGMs into explosives considerably increases velocity of detonation which improves the efficiency of explosion. 
  • Good adhesion of glass microspheres to polymer binders makes it possible to create composites of a low density with a unique complex of properties. These materials are traditionally widely used for the production of buoyancy elements for deep-diving vehicles.
  • The application of hollow glass microspheres as a fine-dispersed filler when producing SMC and BMC molding materials, allows to reduce the density of the composite material from 1,8 g/cm3 to 1,3 g/cm3, without any noticeable decrease in elastic/strength properties.
  • In recent years, the syntactic composites are widely used for the production of efficient protection against shock wave action. The ability of the composites, filled with hollow glass microspheres, to dissipate the energy of the shock wave is much better than that of all known analogues.