In case you’re not familiar with old school CRT or cathode ray tube TVs and monitors (would it be dating ourselves to say that we remember them well?), they’re those clunky things we used to use before we had LCD, plasma and LED screens. Aside from people who want to keep them for nostalgic reasons, most of them have fallen into disuse. Luckily, PETEC, Panasonic’s electronics and appliances recycling wing, will happily accept these archaic screens as they have the technology to turn them into something they need for their Vacua insulation material – glass wool.
Yesterday, we visited the Kusatsu test plant where all of this magic happens and even got to touch the newly spun glass wool with our own hands. Our guide explained that the glass from the front (the lead-lined glass in the back is saved for another purpose) of each CRT is crushed into pebble sized particles, fed into a super-heated spinner and extruded out of tiny holes to create the glass wool fibers. Each strand is just 4μ (microns) thick, and to give you some perspective on that, a human hair is about 80μ thick. The resulting glass wool material is very lightweight and similar to cotton at the touch – perfect for packing into insulation materials.