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Italian consortium reduces glass sector emissions with hydrogen

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Snam, RINA, Bormioli Luigi, Bormioli Rocco, STARA GLASS, Università degli Studi di Genova, Stazione Sperimentale del Vetro, IFRF Italia, SGRPRO, and RJC SOFT have formed a working group to reduce emissions in the glass sector with hydrogen.

The production of glass objects, of which Italy is Europe’s second-largest producer with over 5 million tonnes produced each year, is energy-intensive and difficult to power with electricity. To that purpose, the ‘Divina’ project (Decarbonisation of the Glass Industry: Hydrogen and New Equipment), led by Snam, RINA, and Bormioli, intends to cut emissions during the glass melting stage, which accounts for more than half of total energy usage throughout the manufacturing process.

In this sense, the availability of an energy source like hydrogen can provide a viable option by optimizing its use in terms of energy and emissions, as well as controlling production and transportation problems.

“Hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonizing energy-intensive sectors such as glass production in order to meet domestic and European climate targets. This project complements what we are already doing in the steel, rail transport and ceramics sectors. Snam will be able to draw on its infrastructure and expertise to facilitate the introduction of hydrogen in industry, bringing benefits in terms of economic growth.”

Snam CEO Marco Alverà

“We are continuing to work with Snam and other companies to contribute to the ecological transition of the major energy-intensive chains. Following the first test with a mix of natural gas and 30% hydrogen in steel processing that we carried out in May, our expertise and laboratories are also being used for the ‘Divina’ project, an important milestone towards the decarbonization of another of the most significant sectors in the Italian economy.”

Ugo Salerno, President and CEO of RINA

“As heirs to one of Europe’s oldest industrial traditions, high-quality glass production, we want to play a leading role in the decarbonization of our industry, which is classified as hard-to-abate. The partnership with leading players in the energy sector, the glass industry and academia makes the Divina project a sound and concrete proposal for a path to green transition and sustainability.”

Vincenzo Di Giuseppantonio, CEO of the Bormioli Luigi Group.

In the short to medium term, the effort will allow for the evaluation of the effects of introducing an increasing proportion of hydrogen combined with natural gas into existing melting furnaces working under normal production settings. Following adequate laboratory testing, testing considerable volumes of hydrogen on operating furnaces will provide a chance to evaluate the compatibility of hydrogen combustion with glass material in real industrial production scenarios.

Today, natural gas is the primary energy source utilized by glassworks, and CO2 emissions total over 1,500,000 tonnes per year, accounting for approximately 3.5 percent of total manufacturing industry emissions. The use of a 30% hydrogen blend in glass melting operations would lower emissions by 200,000 tonnes, which is equivalent to the emissions of about 100,000 cars on a national scale.

The initiative will also identify and then optimize the design rules for future furnaces – dubbed “Furnaces 4.0” – to provide the greatest performance even with larger hydrogen percentages of up to 100 percent.

The all-Italian working group represents the entire value chain because it includes energy specialists, top-tier glass groups, fuel production and transport operators, leading companies in certification and integration of complex systems, companies that design glass melting furnaces, and university and research centers.

Anela Dokso

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