Glass Futures, a not-for-profit glass industry research organization, has partnered with the UK government to determine whether alternative sustainable fuels could reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%, decarbonizing the glass industry faster, said Palma, Head of Combustion Technology at Glass Futures. González García said.
Glass Futures has published a report which answers some fundamental questions surrounding low-carbon fuels in the UK glass industry.
Figure 1 Glass Futures: the not-for-profit glass industry research organization
The report states:
100% liquid sustainable biofuels save 70-80% of carbon compared to high-carbon natural gas. The study demonstrates the technical feasibility demonstrated by Kimpilton UK in a major industrial trial of flat and container glass.
Replacing natural gas with hydrogen has been demonstrated on an industrial scale and looks promising, but different scenarios are needed in different sub-sectors. Further research is needed to understand the effects of hydrogen combustion on glass melting and forming processes, glass quality, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and refractory corrosion resistance.
Some manufacturers are using more and more electricity as fuel, and electricity can provide 20-40% of the melting energy on average. Beyond this amount, there are more requirements for kiln design. Other hurdles include uncertainty about rising energy costs.
In addition to a series of pilot-scale tests, economic modeling and research on hybrid solutions from now to 2100 found that, based on retrofit solutions and taking into account an active policy framework co-created by industry and government, by 2060, A net zero return on investment is possible.
The report concludes that, while commercially available biofuels and hydrogen have had positive results, options for decarbonizing the glass industry are not widespread. Glass Futures says this is because of geographic drivers such as localized hydrogen networks and grid capacity.
"Our study shows that major investigations are needed in the future and that the options for decarbonizing the glass industry will not be limited to a single solution," García said. "This allows the glass industry to both decarbonize and respond to market factors that could drive net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner."
García added that switching fuel is not cheap. For example, the furnace needs to be replaced. There are limited opportunities to replace furnaces during uninterrupted production activity. Major modifications to the furnace design can only be made during cold repairs and at significant cost.
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