Trial successfully produces glass using hydrogen power

Article by Amanda Doyle

A TRIAL has shown that a glass furnace can successfully be powered with hydrogen instead of natural gas.

The glass was manufactured using hydrogen at Pilkington UK’s St Helens, Merseyside facility in what was described by the company as a world first. Using hydrogen instead of natural gas in the float glass furnace will reduce emissions from the glass manufacturing industry. The trial aimed to show that the furnace could run safely at 1,600oC at full scale when powered by hydrogen, and not impact on product quality.

Matt Buckley, UK MD of Pilkington UK, part of the NSG Group, said: “The trial was a significant success. Thanks to NSG’s advanced fuel combustion expertise, and the preparation and efforts of the team, we managed to achieve a seamless transition between the two different fuels. It proves that hydrogen is just as capable as natural gas in achieving excellent melting performance, and that it could be possible to operate the furnace with vastly reduced carbon emissions.”

The trial lasted for three weeks using hydrogen supplied by industrial gas company BOC using road tankers. The longer-term plan is to create a network of hydrogen pipelines to supply industrial sites. The project is part of the HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching initiative, which is led by Progressive Energy.

David Parkin, Director of Progressive Energy and Project Director of HyNet North West said: “Industry is vital for the economy but is difficult to decarbonise. HyNet is focused on removing carbon from industry through a range of technologies including the capturing and locking up of carbon and the production and use of hydrogen as a low carbon fuel. This trial at Pilkington UK is a significant step in demonstrating that it is possible to use hydrogen to power glass production, and provides a valuable blueprint for further trials and implementation.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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