Low production costs and high product quality — these are the advantages of the SiVARA® process for manufacturing high-purity silica glass, which made its public debut recently. Based on the "sol-gel" process, the SiVARA® process was improved and developed to technical maturity by Degussa Novara Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Degussa AG, Düsseldorf. Dr. Alfred Oberholz, Chief Development Officer and member of the Degussa Management Board, described his own impressions to the guests when he visited Novara: "It's remarkable to see what they've been able to do here in such a short time. Our company has succeeded in creating a breakthrough process for sol-gel production of silica glass." Degussa Novara Technology is already operating a pilot plant in Novara, near Milan, that produces glass bodies that are amongst the largest ever manufactured by the sol-gel process. The German company SGIL (Silicaglas Ilmenau), a spin-off of QSIL (Quarzschmelze Ilmenau), a well-known name in the industry, has also become one of the first licensees. "We are impressed by the technology," says SGIL Managing Director Dr. Thomas Kreuzberger. "In the future, our production will be based on the SiVARA® process."
With its SiVARA® process for manufacturing high-purity silica glass bodies, Degussa Novara Technology has an outstanding position in the market. A worldwide trendsetter, the sol-gel manufacturing process is a low-cost alternative to most of the production methods currently used. Degussa Novara Technology offers licenses for this sol-gel process, as well as the system components AEROSIL® fumed silica and Dynasylan® A (tetraethoxysilane), which are also used in the process. In this way, Degussa is further establishing itself as a system supplier that develops and supplies raw materials and high-quality processing technology.
The new technology shall be used in the production of fiber optics, special glass-mold bodies for the semiconductor industry, and optical applications. The SiVARA® process is based on a special sol-gel process. This enables the processing of fine powders like AEROSIL®, as well as AERODISP® dispersions, into compact glass-mold bodies free of cracks. The high purity results in outstanding optical transparency over a broad range of spectrum, from ultra-violet to infrared light. The specialists of Degussa Novara Technology also achieve very high geometric reproducibility of their glass objects through the principle of molding and gelling a liquid at room temperature. The company’s slogan "shape the liquid, not the solid" describes the change in paradigm from the traditional process of manufacturing high-quality glass lenses, for example, by cutting, grinding and polishing. Even complex, micro-structured surfaces can be manufactured simply (for which Degussa was chosen as a finalist in the European Descartes Award 2004). This is why the production and investment costs are so attractive to licensees. "Additionally," says Dr. Andreas Rückemann, President of Degussa Novara Technology, "the construction time for an industrial-scale plant is relatively short, and production is environmentally safe."