An Italian working group co-ordinated by Snam, RINA and Bormioli aims to reduce emissions in the glass industry by utilising hydrogen.
The manufacture of glass objects, of which Italy is the second-largest producer in Europe with over five million tonnes per year, is energy-intensive, produces significant emissions and is difficult to power with electricity.
To address this, the ‘Divina’ project (Decarbonisation of the Glass Industry: Hydrogen and New Equipment) aims to reduce emissions in the glass melting stage, which accounts for more than 50% of total energy consumption throughout the production process.
The group, comprising Snam, RINA, Bormioli Luigi, Bormioli Rocco, STARA GLASS, UNI.GE., Stazione Sperimentale del Vetro, IFRF Italia, SGRPRO and RJC SOFT, believes that hydrogen can provide a viable solution by optimising its use in terms of energy and emissions and managing production and transport challenges.
Snam chief executive Marco Alverà said: “Hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising energy-intensive sectors such as glass production in order to meet domestic and European climate targets. This project complements what we are already doing in the steel, rail transport and ceramics sectors.”
The initiative will make it possible, in the short to medium term, to assess the results of introducing an increasing proportion of hydrogen blended with natural gas into existing melting furnaces operating under regular production conditions.
Testing significant quantities of hydrogen on operational furnaces will be an opportunity to evaluate the compatibility of hydrogen combustion with glass material in real industrial production contexts following appropriate testing in laboratories.
Ugo Salerno, President and CEO of RINA, commented: “Following the first test with a mix of natural gas and 30% hydrogen in steel processing that we carried out in May, our expertise and laboratories are also being used for the ‘Divina’ project, an important milestone towards the decarbonisation of another of the most significant sectors in the Italian economy.”
Today, the main energy source used by glassworks is natural gas and CO2 emissions amount to around 1,500,000 tonnes per year: overall, around 3.5% of the emissions of the entire manufacturing industry. Nationwide use of a 30% hydrogen blend in glass melting processes would reduce emissions by 200,000 tonnes, equivalent to the emissions of around 100,000 cars.
The project will also define and subsequently optimise the design rules for future furnaces, which can guarantee the best performance even with higher hydrogen percentages up to 100%.