The global glass manufacturing industry, often characterized by its energy-intensive processes, is on the cusp of a transformative journey towards sustainability. Four major glass manufacturing facilities are gearing up to commence full-scale hydrogen trials, marking a significant step towards the sector’s decarbonization.
Slovenia’s Steklarna Hrastnik will lead the way, followed by Owens Corning in France, and Italian-based companies Zignago Vetro and Vetrobalsamo. These trials are part of the ambitious H2GLASS project, which will see five plants embrace hydrogen trials starting in 2025.
The H2GLASS project, a collaborative initiative that unites glass manufacturers with industrial and research institutions, aspires to revolutionize glass manufacturing by reducing its carbon footprint. This transformation is part of the Horizon Europe program, initiated in January 2023.
At the heart of this endeavor lies a pivotal shift from natural gas to green hydrogen combustion within glass production facilities. The potential benefits are substantial, with the prospect of an impressive 80% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The significance of this transition cannot be overstated, as glass manufacturing typically relies on energy sources that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. By embracing green hydrogen, the industry can align with global sustainability goals and significantly reduce its environmental impact.
Transitioning to green hydrogen comes with a unique set of challenges. Securing a reliable hydrogen supply for on-site demonstrations, managing NOx emissions, and addressing high flame propagation speed while maintaining product quality and safety are among the hurdles to overcome.
To navigate these challenges effectively, the H2GLASS project has turned to cutting-edge technology – Digital Twin techniques. By implementing digital twins, the project aims to enhance the efficiency and reliability of the glass manufacturing process, streamlining operations and minimizing risks.
Considerable progress has been made in the project’s journey. Technical requirements have been identified, test plans have been developed for the industrial demonstrators, and a robust safety plan has been established to ensure the secure testing of hydrogen combustion.
However, a pivotal milestone was reached when the project successfully procured the electrolyser for the upcoming full-scale trials from a reliable European supplier. The availability of green hydrogen is a significant concern in today’s market, and this procurement ensures that the project can proceed with confidence.
The H2GLASS project represents an essential step towards a more sustainable future for the glass manufacturing industry. By adopting green hydrogen, the industry can significantly reduce its carbon emissions while continuing to meet the growing global demand for glass products.
As the project progresses through permitting processes and equipment procurement, the vision of a greener and more environmentally responsible glass manufacturing industry inches closer to reality. The 2025 full-scale trials are poised to be a defining moment in the industry’s journey towards decarbonization.