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Decarbonization of Flat Glass Manufacturing: design of a hybrid mid-sized pilot furnace

Volta project

 

Saint-Gobain Glass and AGC, global manufacturers of flat glass, are collaborating to develop an innovative pilot flat glass production line expected to significantly reduce its direct CO2 emissions. Within this research and development initiative, AGC's Barevka patterned glass production line in the Czech Republic will undergo a complete overhaul to become a cutting-edge facility, aiming to operate with 50% electrification and 50% utilization of a combination of oxygen and gas. 

This upgraded furnace will serve as a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the feasibility of implementing such technologies in large float glass furnaces. Funding for this R&D project has been provided by the Innovation Fund of the European Union.

 

 

 

About the R&D project

The aim of the project is to develop and construct an innovative hybrid glass furnace that combines electric melting with oxy-gas combustion. This integrated approach offers an alternative to the predominantly natural gas-fired flat glass sector. The highly electrified furnace presents a more cost-effective and scalable solution for reducing CO2 emissions in the flat glass industry compared to other clean options, such as full clean hydrogen combustion. 

The new design will undergo a trial run in collaboration between AGC and Saint-Gobain Glass at AGC's existing patterned glass furnace in Barevka, Czech Republic. It is anticipated that the hybrid furnace will decrease scope 1 and 3 emissions at the pilot site by 75% compared to the reference scenario.

 

EU

 

 

About the technology

 

 

 

This pioneering technology integrates all-electric melting and oxy-gas combustion within a single furnace, marking a significant advancement in glass production. This approach allows for a 50% electrification rate while maintaining the high-quality standards essential for float glass. Additionally, the project's sustainability model will be enhanced by substituting virgin raw materials with up to 100% recycled glass.

The flat glass industry contributes approximately 5.3 million tons of CO2[1] equivalent in direct emissions annually in Europe, with approximately 75% stemming from natural gas combustion and the remaining 25% from raw materials[2]. Consequently, the innovative furnace is anticipated to substantially reduce energy-related emissions, with a projected emission reduction of over 193,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent during the initial decade of operation.

 

[1] Verified emissions of 2022 of the 42 flat glass installations in Europe registered in the EU ETS https://ec.europa.eu/clima/ets/transaction.do?languageCode=en 

 

 

Contributing to the REPowerEU plan 

 

 

 

 

The project aligns with the European objectives outlined in the REPowerEU communication, aiming to diminish fossil fuel usage in both industry and transportation through the implementation of innovative technologies and electrification.

 

Moreover, we expect that the project will generate positive socio-economic impacts at the regional level. While the current output at the Barevka site stands at approximately 90 tonnes of glass per day, there is significant potential for scalability, particularly with the adoption of technology at larger production facilities ranging from 600 to 800 tonnes daily.

 

Additionally, there exists considerable potential for replication across Europe, given that the industry presently manufactures approximately 10 million tonnes of glass annually[2] and serves as a vital supplier to sectors such as construction, automotive, and consumer goods. Therefore, the technology holds promise in advancing the decarbonization efforts of critical sectors like construction and automotive, all while maintaining the competitiveness of the EU flat glass industry.


 

[2] https://glassforeurope.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/flat-glass-climate-neutral-europe.pdf 

 

 

Copyrights of pictures: AGC / Saint-Gobain / Stocksy - Monica Murphy

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