Saint-Gobain – a French company, designing, manufacturing, and distributing materials and solutions globally, has achieved a critical development in utilizing hydrogen in glass production. The company succeeded in using more than 30% hydrogen during a test production of flat glass at research & development (R&D) trials at its Herzogenrath site in Germany.
The test is a world first and Saint-Gobain has proven the technical feasibility of manufacturing flat glass with such a significant proportion of hydrogen. The process was complemented with other decarbonized energy sources and the site’s direct CO2 emissions (scope 1) were reduced by up to 70%.
Relevant: First Net Zero Glass Bottles To Be Created Using Hydrogen
This milestone was achieved thanks to an R&D program launched in 2022, drawing on Saint-Gobain’s extensive expertise in combustion, glass quality, ceramic refractory materials and industrial furnace design.
The program is carried out in collaboration with the independent German laboratory Gas and Heat Institute Essen e.V. (GWI) – a specialist in industrial gas technologies. It is financially supported by the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia in the amount of 3.64 million euros ($3.98 million).
Analysis of the data from the company’s tests will allow for the process to be deployed in the Group’s floats in the decades to come, as low-carbon hydrogen becomes available in sufficient quantities.
As glass is usually made in furnaces at extremely high temperatures, the process is highly carbon-intensive. The glass industry is responsible for around 117 million metric tons of CO2 emissions globally each year.
Relevant: AGC And Saint-Gobain To Design A New Flat-Glass Production To Cut Emissions
Back in February this year, Saint-Gobain announced a partnership with AGC Inc – a world-leading glass solution provider to design a pilot innovative flat-glass line production that is 50% electrified and 50% fired by a combination of oxygen and gas. The process is expected to be implemented by the second half of 2024.
Saint-Gobain’s climate goal is to become net zero carbon by 2050. The company conducts R&D initiatives on the electrification of glass melting and has made achievements like the world’s first zero-carbon production of flat glass at Aniche in May 2022.