Well, it’s been a challenge this year for everyone…let’s be honest! Not only with the obvious pandemic impact, but the fact that the world in which we’re living has been getting increasingly torn apart by climate change. We all know we need to act…the question is, will we? In the last couple of months though, it appears that the glass industry has started to take a lead. New that C-CAPTURE has announced that it will work alongside Pilkington to assess the possibility of using its technology to capture CO2 emissions from glass production is a definite positive step.

The partnership has been awarded funding through Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund to investigate if C-Capture’s carbon capture technology could be used to capture emissions from glass production and assess if the technology could be deployed at a Pilkington UK site.

We all know that glass production is energy intensive. The float process for example requires temperatures of up to 1,500oC in the furnace for continuous periods of maybe 50 hours at a time.

The main source of emissions in glass production is the combustion of fossil fuels to heat the furnace and the decomposition of carbonate and sulfate raw materials. Some methods exist for reducing emissions, such as using more recycled glass and improving energy efficiency.

According to a report from Glass Alliance Europe last year, emissions in the glass industry have been decreasing in the last 50 years, but progress has been slower since the 1990s, as additional reductions are difficult to achieve. Emissions from fuel combustion cause 75–80% of CO2 emissions and process emissions from decomposition of the raw materials is responsible for 15–25% of emissions. Glass Alliance Europe identified CCS as an area where R&D needs to be focussed.

C-Capture has developed an amine-free, inexpensive carbon capture technology that uses 40% less energy than other commercially-available technologies. Capturing CO2 emissions from glass production is challenging due to the impurities from high levels of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.

Matt Buckley, Managing Director at Pilkington United Kingdom, said: “Our Manufacturing and R&D functions are extremely pleased to be collaborating with C-Capture in the development of carbon capture solutions for our glass manufacturing process. We look forward to making further progress in this important and exciting field.”

This news comes on the back of that revealed in France a couple of months earlier where a consortium has launched an R&D programme which aims to decarbonise the glass manufacturing process by evaluating energy sources for a sustainable industrial process. 

The consortium, formed by energy group ENGIE, glass furnace supplier Fives, and glass manufacturers Saverglass and Verescence, has launched the VERCANE programme: fusion de VERre CArboNEutre (carbon neutral glass melting). 

Despite being a flagship French industry glass nevertheless facing the challenge of carbon neutrality. 
CO2 emissions in this sector are mainly produced by the glass melting process, accounting for 70-80% of the total emissions of a production site. The sector has more than 80 furnaces spread over 50 sites in France. 
Fully in line with objectives of the 2050 low-carbon strategy plan for the French industry, VERCANE aims to develop sustainable scenarios of energy transition by designing solutions based on decarbonised energy sources. 

VERCANE will study different carbon neutral energy systems that could be compatible with the glass melting process: hydrogen, bioresources and process electrification. It will also explore options to adapt existing melting furnaces to new energy sources. 

Are we about to herald a new brighter future in 2021? Let’s hope so…

Happy Reading!

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