SCHOTT examines use of hydrogen in glass production

The technology company SCHOTT began an extensive research study to examine the use of hydrogen on a big scale in continuous glass production.

SCHOTT aims to investigate the prospects for novel, decentralized hydrogen solutions with the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse as well as its cooperation partners, the Mainzer Stadtwerke and the hygiene company Essity.

The majority of the CO2 emissions are produced during the energy-intensive melting process of special glass at temperatures of up to 1,700 degrees Celsius. Natural gas is mostly used to power the glass furnaces. SCHOTT aspires to permanently eliminate using fossil fuels and has committed to manufacturing in a way that is carbon neutral by 2030. The technological shift is the most crucial and challenging step toward producing in a climate-neutral manner. Here, SCHOTT is principally concentrating on two transformational avenues: the utilization of green hydrogen and the electrification of furnaces using green electricity.

At the Mainz location, SCHOTT will continue testing the admixture of hydrogen through the end of December as part of the “H2 Industry” research project. The project is supported by the Mainzer Stadtwerke, who operate a mobile mixing facility where the hydrogen and natural gas mixture is produced. The quantity of hydrogen is gradually raised to up to 35% by volume in the system created and run by Mainzer Netze GmbH.

The experiment is truly groundbreaking for the glass sector, therefore the study team is still faced with many open concerns, such as how hydrogen impacts the intricate melting processes and the quality of the end products. The current outcome is that the high temperatures needed for glass melting are attained. The experts are currently doing a thorough study of the melted glasses’ glass quality.

The test results are used by SCHOTT to advance its investigation into the environmentally friendly transformation of the glass melt. In 2023, the smelting specialists intend to conduct laboratory-scale tests using only hydrogen.

There are still numerous technological and infrastructure challenges to be solved, despite the fact that research into the extremely complicated melting processes is currently in full gear in order to make SCHOTT “H2-ready” in its production. The availability of green hydrogen produced from renewable sources is the main obstacle. It requires the establishment of a complete supply infrastructure and the expansion of renewable energies in order to provide enough green electricity for widespread industrial use.

Over 714,000 euros were spent on the research study overall. As part of the European Regional Development Fund, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, and Mobility will contribute about 338,000 euros (ERDF). For the test, SCHOTT is presently utilizing “grey” hydrogen. There is now a shortage of “green” hydrogen, which is created from renewable energy sources, on the market.