European glass container industry implements "Future Furnace" project

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2022-03-21 11:30

As reported by the European Glass Container Federation on March 16, 2020: For the first time ever, European glass container manufacturers have come together to discuss the construction of the first large-scale hybrid electric furnace to run on 80% green electricity.

The "kiln of the future" is a fundamental milestone in the industry's journey to decarbonize and move towards a climate-neutral glass packaging. It will be the world's first large-scale kiln with 80% renewable electricity and mixed oxyfuel, which will replace current fossil fuel energy sources and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50%.

In an industry-first collaborative approach, 20 glass container manufacturers have mobilized resources to participate in pilot projects to demonstrate the concept.

Michel Giannuzzi, President of FEVE (Federation of European Glass Containers) commented: "We are very proud to announce this joint industry project". "Hybrid technology is a step change in the way we produce and will allow us to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of glass packaging production. This move marks an important milestone in the implementation of decarbonization strategies for the glass industry".

The Ardagh Group, the world's second largest glass packaging manufacturer, volunteered to build the kiln in Germany. It will be completed in 2022, with a first outcome assessment planned for 2023. There are already several electric melting furnaces in operation in 150 glass-making plants in Europe, but these are smaller scales and are dedicated to the production of colorless glass from raw meal and therefore use little or no recycled cullet. . With this new technology, the industry will be able to use high levels of recycled cullet to produce over 300 tonnes of glass of any colour per day.

"With this new technology, we are embarking on a journey towards a climate-neutral glass packaging and ensuring the long-term sustainability of glass manufacturing", says Martin Petersson, CEO of European glass company Ardagh Group. "Our goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of electrofusion on a commercial scale, which will revolutionize consumption in the glass packaging market".

Implementing the "kiln of the future" would be an extremely ambitious project, requiring significant financial and human resources as well as extensive expertise. Therefore, the industry has committed to working together and by taking a cross-sectoral approach, it also intends to receive support from the European Commission through the ETS Financing Innovation Fund programme. While this project is critical, it is not the only one the industry is working on. Other climate-neutral and cleaner production technologies for glass packaging are already being implemented or being explored.

About the project

Why it matters:

Today, the use of electricity as the primary energy source in the container glass industry is limited to small colorless glass furnaces that do not use recycled cullet. New technologies will break these constraints.

The technology replaces 80% of natural gas with green electricity, reducing CO2 emissions from kilns by 60% or total CO2 emissions from glass container plants by 50%.

For the first time, this project will bring together the best engineers from 20 glass container manufacturers to show that it can be done.

The technology will allow the industry to use high recovery rates of cullet, which is currently not possible with electric furnaces. For every 10% increase in recycled glass in the kiln, CO2 emissions can be reduced by an additional 5% and energy consumption can be reduced by 3%.

To avoid supply problems, the hybrid technology can also be flexibly switched to other energy sources, which will ensure that production will not be interrupted.

Compared to conventional kilns, the additional costs (capital and operating expenses) for hybrid technology kilns are estimated to be as high as 40 million euros over the kiln's lifetime of more than ten years. This is mainly due to the cost of electricity compared to natural gas (about three times higher per megawatt hour).


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