Saving tomorrow: The smart work behind sustainability


These nine real-world technologies can make a difference in the fight against climate change.


You’re not alone if you’ve ever stopped your scroll or turned off the news and thought, “Gosh, I hope someone figures this all out.”

That someone might just work at Corning.

With climate change ever advancing, the world is recognizing that something must be done. And Corning knows it must be done quickly.

“We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a crucial tool at the center of everything Corning does: the ability to invent,” Jeffrey Evenson, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, said. “And not just invent – but truly use our capabilities to impact the industries we lead.”

Invention has been at Corning’s core for 173 years. It’s why the world has light bulbs, televisions, durable mobile devices, high-speed telecommunications, cleaner emissions, and pharmaceutical packaging for swift vaccine delivery. A dedicated investment in the company’s research and development pushes the possibility of even more human advancements.

“With a distinctive combination of technical capability and proprietary manufacturing and engineering platforms, we’re advantaged in our ability to tackle sustainability with our customers,” Evenson said.

With that innovative mindset, Corning helps its customers meet – and surpass – their sustainability goals. This impact is an example of Corning’s sustainability “handprint” – an effect based in the use of its products that outlasts a company’s “footprint,” which is the immediate amount of greenhouse gas emitted during operations. While Corning works on reducing its own carbon footprint, and has been named an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for 10 consecutive years, the company’s handprint stretches further.

“Our handprint means our innovations help others make a positive change for the Earth,” Mark Steen, vice president of sustainability and climate initiatives, said. “Our innovations enable us to amplify our customer's good work. And not a lot of companies get to do that.”

Below, you’ll find stellar examples on how Corning’s culture of innovation has come to life in its sustainability-forward products and processes – Corning’s handprint at work.


Ceramic substrates and particulate filters for vehicle emissions

Fifty years ago, Corning rose to the call of the U.S. Clean Air Act, inventing the world’s first ceramic substrates that set the standard for catalytic converters worldwide. From 1975 through today, car emissions dropped by an astounding 99%. Corning also pioneered particulate filters that help prevent soot from diesel engines and ultrafine particles from gasoline engines from entering the air we breathe. Automotive-emissions-control products help save hundreds of thousands of lives each year globally.


Corning® Coldform™ Technology reduces energy use

Providing a less-energy-intensive alternative to hot-formed glass, Corning’s ColdForm Technology allows glass to be bent to shape at room temperature to precisely cover curved in-vehicle displays. Each step in the manufacturing process – from fusion forming to chemical strengthening, from decoration to shipping – is all done with flat pieces of glass before shaping. ColdForm reduces embodied carbon by 25 percent or more – making it a win-win-win for Corning, its customers, and the environment.


Corning® Viridian™ Vials for less waste

Each year, nearly 133,000 tons of glass is discarded as medical waste. Corning invented Viridian Vials, a pharmaceutical packaging solution that uses less glass per vial, manufactured with 100% renewable energy. This reduces material waste by 20 percent and reduces vial manufacturing emissions by almost the same percentage. Viridian Vials can protect product quality and boost filling line productivity – helping customers increase production in a more environmentally friendly package.


EDGE™ Solutions for data center sustainability

As artificial intelligence and cloud-based computing get even more popular, data centers need more connectivity, without all the waste. The EDGE™ distribution system cuts installation time by up to 70 percent and reduces carbon footprint by up to 55 percent, compared to Corning’s legacy solution, according to a third-party life cycle assessment. With the consolidation of cables into a single pre-engineered assembly and elimination of hardware, data centers managers can cut down on material and packaging waste and focus on growing with AI.


Boundary-pushing progress

Above, you’ve seen how Corning has already made an impact with products that are vital to progress.

What else can Corning do?

“By using our ability to innovate in the markets we already serve – with manufacturing facilities we already have – we are able to bring all of our people into the fight,” Evenson said.

Corning’s investment in research and development allows for an ever-growing list of innovations. From solar technologies to carbon capture, the following areas are primed for improvements through Corning’s expertise:


Harnessing solar power

Solar power is the lowest cost and fastest growing source of new renewable energy today. Corning’s capabilities apply directly.

Corning’s majority-owned subsidiary Hemlock Semiconductor (HSC) makes low-carbon, hyper-pure polysilicon, designed for use in solar panels. And Corning’s purposefully designed glass for solar modules, currently in early development with customers, has the potential to reduce weight, increase useful life, and increase light transmission and therefore increase solar module efficiency.

“Through solar, we have a chance to help decarbonize the electric grid and drive renewable energy use,” Evenson said.


Better energy storage

As the world shifts to electrifying everything, today’s lithium-ion batteries sometimes fall short of our needs. So, how can we enable better batteries? Corning’s ribbon ceramics can enable solid-state lithium batteries, with higher capacities and an inherently safer design than today’s technology.


Green hydrogen for clean energy

Corning is working on advantaged materials for green hydrogen production. Currently, hydrogen production is a very CO2-intensive process. Green hydrogen would be a game-changer for significantly reducing global carbon emissions – both in its production and use. Corning’s ceramics expertise can help better deliver green hydrogen cost-effectively for a specific segment of the market. With multiple massive industrial processes that require hydrogen to succeed – steel and cement, for example – clean hydrogen could make a huge impact.


Insulating windows

At less than a millimeter thick, Corning® ATG™ can enable super insulating windows – drastically reducing the need for air conditioning and heat. Corning’s thin glass can be integrated into standard form-factor window designs, by substituting for the standard center pane of soda lime glass. The result is thin, lighter weight triple pane windows that provide energy efficiency building owners crave.


Carbon capture to slow climate change

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions may not be enough for the world to reach its climate change goals. That’s where negative emissions technology comes in. Corning’s ceramic substrates could be at the center of a burgeoning carbon capture industry to actively pull carbon out of the atmosphere or trap it at the source.

“Some negative emission technology is going to be necessary, and we've got a good shot at being a part of that just because of the engineering advantages of our materials,” Steen said. “We’re experts at packing the surface area of a soccer field into the volume of a soda can.”


The best path forward

While Corning takes pride in how its culture of innovation can support the climate change fight, change does not happen in a vacuum. The ability to innovate with impact relies on joined effort.

Customers and industry partners are critical to the sustainability movement.

“We need the right people accessing our toolbox,” Evenson said. “There are tons of decisions and technologies that go into climate-change solutions. We all need to work together on the best path forward.”