Sisecam’s Burcin Gul spoke to Glass International about her recent Furnance Solutions award win and her plans for the future.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up working in this industry and subsequently for Sisecam.
I received a Master of Engineering (M.Eng). degree within the Energy and Environment programme in Chemical Engineering from the University of Manchester, UK in July 2014.
Subsequently, I joined the modelling and simulation group of Şişecam Science, Technology and Design Centre.
During the final year of my engineering education, I became very interested in subjects of heat transfer and fluid dynamics.
Given that these subjects were easily applicable to glass industry, I was naturally attracted towards scientific positions in glass industry with in-house scientific innovation.
As a chemical engineer, Sisecam was the perfect fit for me. With mathematical modelling, today, I advanced my understanding of features of flow and heat transfer in the furnace and was able to identify key areas requiring research and development to further enhance the furnace design and operation.
Why did you write the paper on improving furnace by design and operation?
Since the melting process consumes substantial amounts of energy, specific fuel consumption reduction through improving furnace design is high priority need.
In this study, I focused on improving thermal performance by enhancing combustion space design and operating parameters of a container furnace as the flame form has an effect on spatial variation and the amount of heat transferred to glass. So that it regulates the convection currents in the melting tank.
After conducting extensive computations by Şişecam Furnace Model and obtaining feedback from and operational sites, it was well understood that the role of design and operating parameters in furnace performance.
I would also like to point out that this is a collaborative work of Şişecam Research and Technological Development Presidency. Therefore, I express my sincere appreciation to my colleagues for bringing their expertise and experience around the table.
How did you feel winning the Furnace Solutions award?
I felt honoured that the research work on mathematical modelling has been recognised as worthy of such an award. I am deeply honoured to receive this important award and to join past recipients who are experts in their fields.
Did it come as a surprise for you to win the award?
This award was certainly unexpected for me as there were many outstanding presentations by very talented and experienced speakers in the conference. I feel humbled and invigorated by the recognition, and will direct this energy into my next research.
Do you feel your award was even more special considering the industry is a very male dominated one?
The number of the female scientists in Şişecam is quite high and I have met so many talented women in Şişecam.
Therefore, I was not really aware of that I have entered a male-dominated field until I attended the conferences abroad. I quickly realised the challenges in having your work recognised as a woman in male-dominated industries.
In that sense, as the first female winner this award marks a great professional attainment for me.
As the first female winner of this award whether you think you can help bring a new generation of women into the industry?
Absolutely! I think, these kinds of awards have big impact on closing the gender gap in female representation and can be very inspirational to encourage more women to pursue a career in our field.
Years of experience in the Society of Glass Technology (SGT) community provided a great platform to succeed in the fields of glass science. For the past few years, I have had the opportunities to discuss the agenda items in the glass industry with highly respected experts in this community. Our discussions served to motivate me to think about designing more efficient furnaces.
Therefore, I truly believe that SGT has an important role to inspire new generation, especially women, to think about glass's future applications and take action.
And finally, you mentioned you are already starting new research. What will it be based on?
Recently, I have been working on optimisation of design and operating parameters of float furnaces for low iron production.
My research focuses on application of developments in glass production to new furnace design and improving the operating conditions of glass melting furnaces. I have been also improving myself in area mathematical modelling and combustion technology development for the glass industry.