Page last updated at 09:00 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 10:00 UK

Glass etching is 'cool brainwave'

by James Gallagher
BBC News

A County Antrim man who makes tombstones says he has accidentally invented a type of glass which could have environmental benefits.

Basil Haslett, from Bendooragh near Ballymoney, says he transforms the molecular structure of toughened glass when he carves designs into it.

Basil Haslett etched himself a whole new business
Basil Haslett etched himself a whole new business

As a result of this etching, less heat passes through the pane.

This accidental side effect could reduce the cost of air conditioning in warmer climes, he claims.

Basil realised what he had done when he fitted the glass in his own home.

"Every year, the porch was so hot during the summer but with the etched glass it was so cold," he said.

"It just struck me what was happening. I didn't realise that when I etched toughened glass, I was changing its molecular structure."

Research at the University of Ulster supported his findings.

His process of glass etching reduced solar heat transference by up to 45%, he found.

At the beginning of 2008 his company, Glasscraft, was granted a US patent for the technique and the Canadian and European patents are expected to follow later this year.

He is now heading to his office in Atlanta, Georgia, where he hopes there will be interest in his work.

"When you ask people how much they spend on air conditioning in a year, they'll say $5,000 to $7,000. All you have to say is: 'We'll save you $4,000 a year, would you be interested in having your glass etched,' it's as simple as that."

Basil moved from headstones to glass when he was asked to do some etchings for a nightclub in Coleraine.

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