Rob Conboy and Ken Mincar, the CEO and chief operating officer, respectively, of Glavel Inc. are laying out the red carpet at an industrial park in Essex for tons of pulverized bottles and jars.By year’s end, they say, their factory will begin churning out what the construction industry needs: lightweight, puffed glass nuggets that will outperform old-fashioned gravel as a subbase for roads and foundations, and even green roofs.

A vast industrial building near Vermont 15 marks the spot. Preparations for the installation of conveyers, silos and furnaces were underway during a recent visit. Outside, Mincar pulled from his pocket a marshmallow-sized sample of what is trademarked as “Glavel.” It felt as light and rough as volcanic pumice, a rock that is likewise made buoyant by heat and gas bubbles. The factory-made sample tipped the scales at ¾ of an ounce; exactly as much as the combined mass of a nickel plus a penny.

Strong yet featherweight, Glavel travels well. Conboy explained: When a construction engineer needs a layer of gravel in a foundation trench to help drain away water and prevent winter frost heaves, he or she orders, by volume, what is generically known as aggregate. Trucking rock aggregate to a site is typically a significant expense, Conboy added — up to 85% more than what it will cost to ship the same volume of his “foam glass” aggregate.

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Author: Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press
Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press