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"Diffused glass has changed the horticulture industry"

One of the major changes in the horticultural sector in recent years is the emergence of diffused glass. Worldwide, more and more greenhouses are covered with it. Last year Glascom Horticulture introduced SmartGlass: an etched variant wherein the dispersion/scattering of light adapts to the angle of the incoming light. Currently, the first greenhouses are being built covered with diffused glass.

Old Glass

In recent years much attention has gone to diffused glass - but it is not new. Michiel van Spronsen of “Glascom Tuinbouw” says:"Forty or fifty years ago it was already clear that results would be better when using diffused glass. But back then the glass was not toughened and brittle and actually quite dangerous. However, in recent years, the development of diffused glass has rocketed. Techniques from the solar industry, revolutionized the quality of the product and with that the interest for the product increased. Despite its history, it is still a young product. There is so much potential and so much yet to be discovered."

Smart Glass

One of the novelties that Glascom introduced last year is SmartGlass. The glass is made from super strong float glass and has, besides the benefits of 'ordinary' diffuse glass, some special features. "It is etched," says Michiel van Spronsen. "This makes it super smooth and dirt hardly stays attached to it. To say that it is self-cleaning, is too strong. But due to its smoothness, it remains clean." This is also because the nature of the glass is hydrophilic: water does not form droplets, but a film that runs down into the gutter. In this way any pollution is discharged.

However the best feature of SmartGlass is primarily its adaptive-haze. As soon as the glass is moist, the scattering factor, the haze reduces. The glass is brighter and the light transmission increases by a few percentages. "Other glass products allow less light transmission during condensation - which is exactly what you do not want. With this we can bring in extra light during autumn and winter, when the need is the most."

Last year, the glass was introduced in the Netherlands on the IDC WUR in Bleiswijk. Even some large farms in Poland are already covered with SmartGlass. Currently in the US and Canada the first greenhouses are being covered with this new glass. The three story high greenhouse, Vertical Harvest in Wyoming (USA) is one of them. 

"It is a social project," Van Spronsen explains. "A private initiative which allows disabled employees to work. It's not just about the cultivation and yield, but about community, and learning about food production." The greenhouse was rapidly built in recent months by Mountain High Greenhouse Construction. But there are more greenhouses covered with SmartGlass, The Canadian Nursery Neil Sawatzky Farms for example. "This greenhouse was built by Thermo Energy." Van Spronsen also noted interest from the medical cannabis industry. This sector will soon built its first greenhouse covered with Smart Glass.

"Diffuse glass has in important position the horticulture sector," Van Spronsen concludes. "It does a lot for the crops. I would not say that our glass is by definition the best. It only has different properties than other types of glass. Each glass has specific properties that suits a greenhouse. We see that SmartGlass is more and more accepted. There is a growing demand."

More information:
Glascom Tuinbouw
Honderdland 30 
2676 15 Maasdijk 
Postbus 22
2670 AA Naaldwijk 
Tel. (0174) 510 082 

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