The French business Saint-Gobain, which designs, produces, and distributes materials and solutions globally, has made a significant advancement in the use of hydrogen in the manufacture of glass.
During a test production of flat glass at research and development (R&D) trials at its Herzogenrath location in Germany, the company was successful in employing more than 30% hydrogen.
Saint-Gobain has demonstrated the technological viability of producing flat glass with such a high concentration of hydrogen in this world-first test. Further decarbonized energy sources were added to the process, and the site’s direct CO2 emissions were cut by up to 70%.
This milestone was attained as a result of an R&D programme that Saint-Gobain initiated in 2022 and drew from its vast expertise in industrial furnace design, glass quality, ceramic refractory materials, and combustion.
A expert in industrial gas technologies, the independent German laboratory Gas and Heat Institute Essen (GWI) is a partner in the program’s execution. The Land of North Rhine-Westphalia provides financial support in the amount of 3.64 million euros ($3.98 million).
As low-carbon hydrogen becomes sufficiently accessible, analysis of the data from the company’s testing will enable the procedure to be used in the Group’s floats in the ensuing decades.
Due to the high temperatures required to make glass in furnaces, the process is very carbon-intensive. Over 117 million metric tonnes of CO2 are emitted annually worldwide by the glass sector.
Back in February of this year, Saint-Gobain announced a cooperation with AGC Inc., a global leader in the glass solutions industry, to create a pilot revolutionary flat-glass line that is fired by a mixture of gas and oxygen and is 50% electrified. By the second half of 2024, the procedure is predicted to be put into practise.
By 2050, Saint-Gobain wants to be net carbon neutral. The company has produced accomplishments including the first zero-carbon flat glass production in the world at Aniche in May 2022 by conducting R&D projects on the electrification of glass melting.