CE08 - Matériaux métalliques et inorganiques et procédés associés


Submission summary

Changes to European regulations (REACH, materials in contact with foodstuffs, etc.) to meet the requirements of today’s society may well have far-reaching consequences for the entire French glass industry. It has become essential to be able to demonstrate the ability of glass to retain potentially toxic elements. The objective of this project is to thoroughly describe the release mechanisms of such elements (heavy and transition metals) during alteration in an aqueous solution, under conditions as close as possible to those found in the use of the main glasses available on the European market (glass crystal with lead or barium, soda-lime, borosilicate, opalescent glasses and those with enamel or organic coating). The relevance of the standardized alteration tests over short periods of time in acidic solutions, currently considered as references, will also be assessed. Beyond the issue of foodstuff contact (carafes, table glassware, etc.), other objects are directly concerned, including for example flasks for fragrances and cosmetics, as well as crystal jewels.

Firstly, the work will involve a description of the alteration mechanisms for broad families of glass and crystal. Then, different types of surface treatments will be tested to limit releases as much as possible, while ensuring that the treatments will enable the authorized content to be respected as defined by the new regulations for all objects sold on the market. Thus the glass industries will not need to modify their formulations and consequently their manufacturing processes, which would have a major economic impact. It is therefore expected that the chemical treatments added at the end of the production run will enable all the objects concerned to respect the standards set by the new regulations, without any major additional cost or drastic changes to the manufacturing processes.

The type of surface treatment to be applied is likely to vary depending on the nature of the glass involved, its type of use, and the nature of the chemical elements it contains. Some surface treatments using gaseous process, chemical reactions, sol-gel or sputtering deposits will be characterized and investigated. Then, if no surface treatment meets the required specifications for certain elements, formulation studies could be conducted to investigate the replacement of certain minor elements. Some preliminary studies, which have recently led to two publications, have already been carried out by academic partners. These have enabled the necessary tools to be set up, and shown the relevance of characterizing the local structure at an atomic scale in order to understand and describe the release mechanisms. This work has opened the way to the more ambitious studies proposed today through this project. With the various investigations suggested (numerous surface treatments available and new formulations), there would be a very low level of any risk associated with the work.

Furthermore, this project would enable a strong partnership to be set up, involving academic groups with a high level of expertise in the field of glass structure and physical-chemical properties as well as key industry players working in the world consumer glass market. The latter partners own a vast historical heritage of the vitreous compositions, and contribute their know-how regarding the effects of glass preparation and surface treatments. All the relatively empirical studies carried out over the last two decades in this field have clearly pointed to the need to work in this type of collaboration if progress is to be made in clarifying issues which have today become part of society’s primary concerns. Major environment-related aspects, which can aid the French glass industry to move closer to clean, sustainable production, are at the heart of this project.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IPGP UMR-Institut de physique du globe de Paris
IC International Cookware / Service Process

Help of the ANR 545,028 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2019 - 42 Months

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