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glass bottles/jars as roofing?

 
                        
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Pam wrote:
You would have to watch it pretty carefully or in short order you might have nothing recognizable as "can"



Well, it might help in flattening it, anyway.
 
                                                
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I think putting the can in the stove would damage the coatings, the organic matter will wash off with the first rain- the paper labels are only attached at one point, rip them off.
 
pollinator
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Heres one that some one has actually done... They have used vinyl LPs as a roof. If you have a rather large supply of them as this person did. The article I read (tree hugger if you want to look it up) says they were damaged... I would think in the manufacturing process. There must be lots of things that could be used for a roof.

Part of it is how long do you want it to last? We were on the beach, the wind was blowing and it was raining, we built a small hut from drift wood. For the roof we used seaweed (lots around in a storm) and even though the walls were full of hole (even in the windward side) it provided shelter. We could have slept there if we had too. We only did it for the fun of it and to teach our children (5 and 11) a bit about use of what they can see around them.

Here's a new topic.... finding something long lasting vs. quick and easy and rebuilding often. Are we too permanent minded?
 
                                                
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vinyl will dry and crack when exposed to UV
 
                                          
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hillbillyarchitect wrote:
vinyl will dry and crack when exposed to UV



layer of thatch on top?

i have hundreds of lp's in my basement.  it's a doable thing.  plus, i've had records melt in my car with the windows up.  they get gummy, and might almost be self-sealing!

i think it's a great idea and would guess that with good thatch coverage or a thin living layer on top, it might be good for many years.

 
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here soon it will be dvd/ cd roofs
 
                        
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charles johnson "carbonout" wrote:
here soon it will be dvd/ cd roofs



At one point I could have roofed my house with those AOL CDs they used to send out every other week.  Seems to me if you're going to use CDs/DVDs you're going to have to:

a) decide if you're going to work shiny side up or design side up;
b) use some REALLY wide washers to fill the center hole;
c) use OSB for the roofing material (the one using LPs in the linked article just had thin strips of wood spaced wide enough for the LPs to be mounted.)

Come to think of it, if you used the shiny side up, you might pose a hazard to air traffic on sunny days.  If you also kept the clear plastic CD containers, maybe you could glue them together in stacks and use them for windows, like glass blocks.
 
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Given the difficulties of glass bottle roof as mentioned, would a green roof ala Mike's $50 Underground House be a better fit? Relatively inexpensive, good insulation, plus food production, and a whole lot less work than cutting thousands of bottles. Just wondering.
 
Christopher de Vidal
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Heh, and then I found this link: $50 glass bottle cutter
 
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but using this idea further, use the bottles and jars and create walls, natural light will come through but the bottles can help insulate, no need to cut, similar to glass blocks, but you must create the "bed" for them to lay in as they go up the wall, maybe others know of a mix that will work, plaster? A special mix created here in Texas from old phone books might work, it hardens like adobe, must be coated with something however , to make it waterproof, sounds like a fun project, make a small one as a sample and see how it goes,
T Redding
trrredding@gmail.com
 
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I wonder if we could make a solar kiln, melt the glass (because we can no longer recycle here) and pour molten glass into tiles about 10 inches my 12 inches that have holes in the top to make them kinda like shingles .... and then make a clear roof of sorts. Not for the purpose of making a greenhouse or for a normal structure, but for walkways. And then plant hops at the foot of these structures.

Maybe we can have a rocket (wood fired) kiln also.
 
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I think this is a marvelous idea!

Sort glass by type (something in my head says glass melts at different temperatures).
Use the sun to pre-heat the glass.
Rocket stove to melt the glass.
Some sort of mold to make the tiles.

My vision would be a yurt shaped, cob-walled dwelling, with kakishibu finished rafters. The kakishibu reacts with the sunlight to strengthen and preserve the wood. The glass tiles would be quite thick and slightly different colours and let in a diffused light. The downside would be in the summer as it would probably heat up the house a bit too much, but that's where the yurt idea comes in. Have the hole in the middle that opens, draw cool air from the open doors... might work. Might not. Perhaps a seasonal ceiling that is modular, easy to install/take down. So in the summer, it would have an attic where one can dry their harvest. In the winter, the ceiling is removed and we receive more light from the roof.
 
r ranson
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Here is a link to glass roof tiles





There seems to be a lot of posts in this thread saying it couldn't be done. None of the reasons given seem strong enough to me.

Too heavy - so is cement, tile, and living roofs. Too heavy, just build stronger.
Too much work - difficult to say this without first-hand experience. What's too much work for one person, may not be for another.
Weather concerns - this is important for any building material. How to address this would depend on the location. All roof is subject to weather.
Strength - This is an interesting one. Some glass is super-strong. Some is fragile. There must be a reason for this. I bet a glass blower would know why. This would be worth investigating. Talking with a glass expert might give some insight to the strongest shape and method for working with the glass.

If you have the resources already on hand, and the willingness to try. I say go for it.
 
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With any type of glass, it comes down to annealing temperatures. Each type of glass is very specific in both temperature and time it must be held at that temperature to avoid it blowing apart either immediately in the kiln or at some date in the not distant future. This is why very little recycled glass is used by blowers or other artists.

I have been to many so-called glass recycling places. I haven't seen anything that I would call the recycling. It's solid waste disposal. Sometimes it is broken up and put into gravel. This lowers the value of that gravel, and some unions refuse to work with this material.

If a uniform supply of bottles from the same manufacturer can be obtained, then there is a chance of successful annealing .

I have cut bottles in the standard fashion, but never tried to split them lengthwise. Should this prove too difficult, they could be slumped in a kiln. The slump mold could be curved and there could be clay nibs which would poke a hole as the material settles.


Tempered patio door glass is a much simpler product to use for a roof. It comes in uniform sizes.

When a clay tile in the center of a roof fails for some reason, replacing it is a very tedious process. Great care must be taken to avoid damaging the other tiles. Replacing a broken piece of glass would be a nightmare.
 
r ranson
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Dale Hodgins wrote:With any type of glass, it comes down to annealing temperatures. Each type of glass is very specific in both temperature and time it must be held at that temperature to avoid it blowing apart either immediately in the kiln or at some date in the not distant future. This is why very little recycled glass is used by blowers or other artists.



That sounds like an important thing to learn about before going too far into the project.

I also noticed you said that very little recycled glass is used by blowers. That implies that some is used. Which suggests that the knowledge to do a project like this already exists in the world. This is inspiring news. All Paul needs now is someone with that skillset, or one willing (and able) to learn. It would be faster and safer than trying to learn from trial and error.


That slump mold sounds interesting, can you tell us more?

 
Dale Hodgins
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Slumping is the least labor-intensive method of working glass that I'm familiar with. The item to be slumped is placed in the kiln and the glass is heated to the point where it will bend and settle into a form, but it does not completely melt. Many embossed art pieces are made in this way.


I met a blower who made use of scrap glass from a known source. This means they were able to determine the exact annealing method. Of all the art forms that I've witnessed, glass work is probably the most energy intensive. Vast amounts of natural gas are burned in order to produce a few art pieces each day.

Electric slumping kilns are much more energy efficient on a per unit basis. Pottery work is also far less energy-intensive on a per-unit basis. Many items can be stacked against one another during the bisque firing, whereas with glass, there must always be separation. Pottery must be cooled slowly, to prevent temperature shock but there is nothing comprable to the difficulties experienced when trying to anneal glass.

Glass is probably the most wasteful packaging product that people use. There are many drinks sold in glass bottles that are not refillable. Instead they put the recycling symbol on the side. From my knowledge of the subject, the chances of that glass ever being turned into another piece of glass, is well under 1%. If it is brought to a recycling facility, it will most likely be turned into a really poor version of gravel. None of the embodied energy in this product is salvageable. The resultant gravel chews up gloves and work boots and small shards can become airborne. Broken glass commonly contaminates paper, cardboard and other items that do really get recycled.

When compared to paper cartons that milk is commonly sold in, packaging a liquid in glass uses about 30 times more energy. The fake recycling symbol on the side is there too fool the purchaser into believing that they have bought an environmentally sound product.
 
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Couple of comments
Firstly have folks seen that you seen the documentry with the folks who enclosed their home in a huge green house , Scandanavia some where they certainly had a glass roof
Secondly I used to have a house with a stone roof terra-cotta is lightweight in comparison to sandstone
Thirdly here in europe glass recycling is big bizz yet I have no idea what they do with it but have never seen it used as gravel
Fourth I like the idea of making glass Lego
5th point here in France some glass containers are allso usable as drinking glasses so they have an extra life after .
 
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This is such an interesting thought........ I love it!
 
r ranson
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As much as I love the idea of recycling the glass to be a roof (and I really hope someone does it, because I think it would be a smashing idea (well, maybe not 'smashing') - I'm putting it on my bucket list for a date in the future when I have the resources and time to play with the idea), ... as much as I love the idea, I'm rather surprised that you guys have so much glass. My limited understanding of what life is like at Paul's place, I would think glass bottles and jars would be a hot commodity.

I could see people being frustrated if the lids didn't seal properly, so they wouldn't be much good for canning or modern day food preservation, but there are loads of other ways to seal a jar or bottle for food (and other goods) storage. Bladders were very popular up to the early 20th Century, and beyond in some parts of the world. Wax is still used by some people today. Oilcloth, corks, wooden stoppers, cloth and string, &c. There are a lot of pre-industrial ways to seal a jar, so long as you aren't counting on pasteurization to sterilize the contents. Perhaps, if an Ant or Gapper was interested in food preservation, they could try a few of these things, show how they work, teach the others, then the problem will soon be a lack of glass jars and bottles.

If anyone's interested, I can put together a reading list and start a new thread on the topic.
 
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Wide-mouth jars could be easily used for canning with one of the older methods like wax. Resurrecting that knowledge would be a good idea.

As far as roofing is concerned, glass bottles are designed to be strong as a whole unit; if cut into pieces like barrel tiles (the name for those half-round tiles) they would be much weaker, and I suspect practically useless for actual roofing. Champagne bottles might be an exception, but somehow I don't see those as a likely source for a whole roof's worth...

I think the slump molding idea is viable, though, as it would give double the thickness and no sharp edges. As bottles all have a narrow neck which is useless for rain-shedding coverage, I would suggest using them as tabs. Clay tiles in northern Europe, England especially, could be flat and used just like other shingles. It was probably most common to form them with one or two holes near the top, but they could also be given a lug at the top edge which would hook over a horizontal wood strip and stay by gravity. (The tiles with holes would slip over wooden pegs, not nails.)

You could shape a slump mold with a (say) 1" step at x" from the bottom, giving uniform exposed flat surfaces. The neck "tabs" would be hidden by the tiles above. Tiles need at least double coverage, so less than half the length of each tile is exposed, in order to shed water. This would make beer bottle tiles very small in exposure, while wine bottle-sized tiles would cover a lot more with the same labor.

To actually do this in quantity for a whole roof, I think you would need to develop a semi-continuous process, maybe refractory (heatproof) trays with the step formed in lengthwise, and a long kiln where trays could have bottles laid side by side and slowly be pushed in one end and out the other. Each tray would spend annealing time bathed in the exhaust from the kiln and slowly cooling until they emerged from the far end. Then the tray would be taken to the entrance end and be refilled with bottles.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
I have been to many so-called glass recycling places. I haven't seen anything that I would call the recycling. It's solid waste disposal. Sometimes it is broken up and put into gravel. This lowers the value of that gravel, and some unions refuse to work with this material.



Hi Dale,
I am disappointed to know this. I don't want it to be true, though suspect it probably is. I tried a web search and could not find anything to disprove what you say. There is some nice info from the glass container industry about 100% recyclability, and the cartoon of the bottles being sorted and melted, posters and such, but it looks like PR type stuff. I know what you say is true about the varying characteristics of various glass materials, and our recycling center limits the glass materials they collect to bottles and jars, because of the different melting properties, but now I wonder where the glass really goes. Can you refer me anywhere to give me more information about the "disinformation" about bottles becoming new bottles?

Thanks!
 
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didn't read the whole thing but my thought is less labor--just put all the bottles up whole, like the guy in the photo, it's not a complete roof but you are still putting another layer below. It serves function 1 of making the roof shinier to some degree, 2 of strengthening/buffering it more, 3 of preventing much from growing on top of the roof surface, if those are the goals. And it's added insulation in winter. Could do a double layer. Just wire the whole row of them in place. Saves on cutting, melting, etc.
 
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R Ranson wrote:I could see people being frustrated if the lids didn't seal properly, so they wouldn't be much good for canning or modern day food preservation, but there are loads of other ways to seal a jar or bottle for food (and other goods) storage.



Actually, you should just try your reuseable jars for canning, because they might well work fine. Jars in India mostly use standard sized lids; I think the same sizes are standard in Europe, but sadly not US. I find that reused lids work fine in canning the majority of the time, or we buy bulk lids every few years too. The reused jars are fine. Before canning season begins, we take all the used jars out of storage and wash them, and check in the sun for hairline cracks and scratches in the glass, and dents in the lids. Then we make our year's supply of apricot jam and juice, canning with hundreds of reused jars and a mix of reused and new lids. Very low failure rate.
 
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When Paul wrote about "living in community" back in 2008, it was before (if I understand the timeline correctly) Wheaton Labs was a thing. Some of the recent responses talking about more practical uses for extra glass containers may have missed that. I'm betting Wheaton Labs has a smaller generation of surplus glass containers, although I do not know this to be so.

This thread has ranged far over the years from the original notion of mechanically reducing bottles to shapes useful as tiles. I find it hard to envision a process for doing that safely and routinely with reasonable amounts of labor and no industrial-scale machinery.

I like rather better the slumping kiln imagined in this thread, and I could also make great uses of sintered glass structural blocks. But the energy budget for any high-temp glass-recycling project is daunting.

I find myself wondering whether scaling down is better than scaling up. Is there any way to build a solar furnace that concentrates enough sunshine to "slump" a single beer bottle? Every morning at dawn on the way to the outhouse you take out yesterday's bottle-tile, put in today's bottle, check that physical security on your solar kiln remains adequate to exclude chickens and children, and get on with your life. That would be a permaculture approach, if it could be done.
 
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I thought that organic meant derived from living things?

Rust is a chemical reaction involving oxidation/reduction.

That is correct: organic refers to molecules with multiple carbons - which in most cases, means originally coming from something alive. I think what was meant is that rust is naturally occuring while paint is synthesized - organic more in the "organic farming" sense of the word.
That being said, if you are planning on collecting water from a tin can roof, it might be worth asking what tin cans are treated with. If tin is treated with something to prevent rust, will that stuff cme off the roof over time, and is it healthy for you? I don't know, but research might be in order.

I'd love to hear whether anyone has worked more with the ideas in this thread. Any examples go up yet?
 
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My first thought was to reform the material.
IMG_20160516_145321.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20160516_145321.jpg]
Glass units as cladding
 
paul wheaton
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Davin, that looks like a much better design than what I had. Although the shape would be tough for a mold. Is there a simpler shape?
 
Davin Hoyt
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paul wheaton wrote:Davin, that looks like a much better design than what I had. Although the shape would be tough for a mold. Is there a simpler shape?



How is this?
section_glass.jpg
[Thumbnail for section_glass.jpg]
Section: Another Glass Tile Design
 
paul wheaton
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i guess i cannot get my head wrapped around that one.
 
Davin Hoyt
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paul wheaton wrote:i guess i cannot get my head wrapped around that one.

glasstile01.jpg
[Thumbnail for glasstile01.jpg]
Glass tile extruded.
glasstile02.jpg
[Thumbnail for glasstile02.jpg]
Glass tile extruded and aligned.
 
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Joe Skeletor wrote:Paul,

This guy made a video about the various ways to cut bottles. He has a method that works really great. Check it out - Joe



thanks Joe. I was worried I wouldn't be able to find that video. Use this method then cut the tubes in half.
Then set it up like a bamboo roof.

like the first part of this video...

 
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coupla things ....


44) what about when the tiles meet, left-to-right? It seems that water could get in there.

45) my experience with glass is very low, but I would guess that something square-ish would probably hold up better (kinda like glass panes).

46) should we have a way to be able to attach this stuff to wood? Maybe as part of the mold?

47) Are sharp edges (like the ones where the two glass tiles meet) easy to do with molds? Somehow I was thinking that the final product was more likely to be roundish


Below was my first thought. I could make a wood thing that would stamp this shape into the ground and then I could pour the liquid glass into it.




glass-tile.jpg
[Thumbnail for glass-tile.jpg]
 
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You could probably make shingles by flattening the glass. It'd probably use less heat. But they still wouldn't over lap on the sides.

I'd go with the bamboo method. It's designed to work with random pieces of bamboo rather then pressed and standardised clay tiles.
All you need is bottle halves and silicon cement (or whatever that stuff is called)
 
r ranson
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Another example of commercially made glass roofing tiles



ew elegant glass roofing tiles have photovoltaics embedded right into the material, creating a completely seamless look with great curb appeal that is also an emissions-free source of renewable electricity to power nearly all of a home’s energy needs.

 
Davin Hoyt
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paul wheaton wrote:Below was my first thought.  I could make a wood thing that would stamp this shape into the ground and then I could pour the liquid glass into it.


In your mind, will light pass through the tile and enter an interior living or recreational space? Or will the tile rest on the roof sheathing (an opaque surface)?
 
paul wheaton
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Davin Hoyt wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:Below was my first thought.  I could make a wood thing that would stamp this shape into the ground and then I could pour the liquid glass into it.


In your mind, will light pass through the tile and enter an interior living or recreational space? Or will the tile rest on the roof sheathing (an opaque surface)?



I am thinking that light will pass through.
 
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this application makes use of the embedded energy already in the bottle
many variations of this


 
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The Appropriate Technology Course is happening right now at my place.

Yesterday we did a couple of quick experiments with glass.  

Mud took a j-tube rocket core and put some glass inside.  Once small bottle we thought would slump, and some broken glass in a mold we intended to melt.   This was a 6 inch core.   The glass all melted and came out quite solid (we were worried about cooling it too quickly).   We will be trying some more designs soon - probably tomorrow.   I like the idea of adding a ceramic tray to the burn tunnel of the core and upgrading to an 8 inch core.

We also did some open air experiments with a large fresnel lens.   We set it up to melt some broken glass and then ate dinner.  When we came back, the sand below the experiment was quite scarred, but the glass remained unmelted.   So we now think it would be wise to work a bit with a mass, some reflection and some insulation.

We are thinking that the first thing we will try for all of these experiments is to come up with a tile.   About 7 inches wide and 10 inches long.   Maybe a third of an inch thick.

 
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I have a suggestion, based on my time on the periphery of glass hot shops. I would suggest sand-casting your glass tiles. I would also suggest thinking about a temperature-controlled oven space, insulated with a door, that can have its temperature slowly dropped, to address your cooling concern; it is a real one.

I would think about casting my tiles in stackable trays filled with sand, with sand plug shapes making holes for screws, if that's the intended method of installation, so as to avoid having to drill glass tile. The trays would be just deep enough to accomodate the tile and an equal amount of sand, with an airspace the thickness of the tile being maintained by a limit to the sand fill level. They could stack, melt the glass in the moulds or have molten glass poured into each mould, then however accomplished, the trays are stacked in the "annealer" (the temperature-controlled oven space, also useful for pottery), where they cool over something like 72 hours.

I would go for the poured method, personally. Better quality tile, faster if you build the system to do it that way. The most time is spent with the glass melting in the crucible, and then with the poured tiles annealing.

As to the solar smelting, for me, the proof of concept is those solar thermal tower arrays out in Spain and elsewhere, whose mirrors' capacity at peak solar output can't be focused at the solar tower for fear of its' destruction. I don't need that kind of power, but I do wonder what a distributed array of mirror and fresnel lens collectors at high points over a varied terrain focused on a single point of a north wall might do in terms of concentrated solar thermal power. If there were an appropriate insulated refractory chamber, and most probably a "receiver" akin in shape and function to a satellite dish receiver, but for accepting and focusing directed solar energy, it is possible that, at least at some latitudes, no other power source might be necessary to smelt glass or metals.

-CK

EDIT: I prefer the shaped tiles to ones with holes for screws, but it's also an option.
 
                          
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I think a way to use old glass would be to arrange it (entire bottles? Crush it up?)
Into a form. Arrange the glass into the shape you will want it to be in, THEN blast it with the fresnel lens.

You might be able to do ANY shape with preshaped molds.
 
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