Small glass samples can be made, on or off site, with a test kiln or open air torch to indicate the glassy palette available from the earth of a site. The same chemical substance can exist in a number of igneous forms depending on rates of heating, cooling and oxidation.
In Situ Plasma Vitrification  
Geometry of Melt
A borehole of 12-18" is made in the earth to be vitrified. A Plasma torch is lowered to the bottom, activated and then slowly drawn upward. The melt grows in an adjustable radius from the borehole to carve a melt in variations of spherical, cylindrical, conical and parabolic forms. These symmetrical geometries would be altered by variations in the composition and structure of the earthy materials.


In Situ Plasma Vitrification
Development of the Technology

Plasma technology is a relatively new advent that can provide extremely high temperatures for long durations and is capable of melting any and all earthy materials. Plasma is the fourth state of matter, comprised of partially ionized gas, and occurs naturally as lightening on earth and as a high energy phenomenon in galactic stars. Plasmas exist at very high temperatures, in the range of 2000 deg C to 20,000 deg C, depending upon the degree of ionization and level of input energy. (Paul W. Mayne, 1996)

Paul W. Mayne and Louis J. Circeo of the Georgia Institute of Technology have headed up research teams to assess in situ vitrification for the stabilization of soil materials and geoenvironmental remediation of contaminated soils and waste. Their research has produced the tools for making glass in situ but stops short of making anything with the glass. We have been investigating the potential of making architecture with these tools. An architectural strategy could extend the process of remediation and reclamation of a site in a meaningful way. When I speak of architecture in this way I mean the shaping of a landscape as well as enclosed spaces.

Now that an urgency to clean up hazardous/ toxic wastes has generated a new set of tools, we can look at ways in which they might be appropriated in building on clean sites as well.




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