Glass experts seek carbon free glass making materials

Researchers from UK based Glass Technology Services are leading key research areas to develop innovations to significantly reduce carbon emissions generated during glass manufacture.

Dr Nick Kirk, Technical Director at Glass Technology Services said: “The glass industry is already working hard to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon levels but there is a lot to do to decarbonise and reach the industry aim to achieve net zero by 2050. 

“We’ve seen an increase in energy efficiency and a decrease in CO2 levels already due to carbon reduction technologies, but more can be done to reduce factory emissions. Through research into raw materials there is an opportunity to reduce the quantity of virgin raw materials needed to produce glass products, whether that is increasing recycling rates and recycled content or looking at glass compositions and the use of waste ash.

“Research into alternative fuels also poses a huge opportunity for the industry to move away from gas fired furnaces to biofuels and hydrogen and is currently being researched by the Glass Technology Services team and Glass Futures, amongst other partners.”

The latest in a number of Glass Technology Services’ projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions kicked off in September. The EnviroAsh project, led by Marlin Magallanes, is looking at the development of new waste-derived raw materials that can be used across other industries, not just within the glass industry.

Partners from across six foundation industries – glass, ceramics, steel, paper, cement and chemicals – as well as the energy sector, academia and the waste and raw material supply chain have been brought together to identify opportunities to take waste ashes, slags, mineral by-products and filter dusts from across the industries and convert them into new raw materials for a range of products in the glass, ceramic and cement industries.

Another goal of the project is exploring how these new feedstocks might create opportunities to improve product performance in a cost-effective manner. Using practical lab demonstrations and exploring commercial-scale demonstrations, the consortium is assessing how the new-waste materials can be incorporated into existing products and processes.

The project is a follow on from successful research projects EnviroGlass2 and Biomash conducted by Glass Technology Services that demonstrated reductions in CO2 emissions through batch reformulations. The team has shown that using waste ash could cut carbon emissions and replace up to a fifth of the conventional mined and man-made raw materials used to make glass (sand, soda ash and limestone). UK biomass power plants currently produce more than 1million tons of waste ash a year. 

The EnviroAsh consortium, led by Glass Technology Services includes Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Sheffield, Power Minerals, Glassworks Services, Glass Futures, Encirc, Saica Paper, Drax Power, Wienerberger and Castle Cement. 

Marlin Magallanes said: “We are delighted to receive funding to expand upon an established consortium [EnviroGlass2] introducing new partners from others foundation industries. The work we have undertaken has the potential to revolutionise glass manufacture by using waste materials and can support the important goal to decarbonise the glass industry.”

Project funding was received as part of the Innovate UK ‘Transforming Foundation Industries: Fast Start Projects’ funding call and was secured the support alongside three other projects of which Glass Technology Services form part of the consortium. Other projects include:

‘IRIFIO Intelligent Robotic Inspection for Foundation Industry Optimisation’ led by i3D robotics and supported by Glass Technology Services and Lucideon which aims to Translate sensor technology from steel sector for use in glass and ceramic manufacturing.

‘Hybrid Sintering for Decarbonisation and Productivity in Manufacturing’ led by Lucideon with The University of Sheffield, Knowles, Vesuvius and Glass Technology Services. The project will develop techniques to sinter ceramics and glass materials at faster speeds and lower temperatures. 

‘PowerCO2 Power Generation and Heat Recovery from Industrial Waste Heat with Advanced CO2 Thermodynamic Power Cycles’ led by Celsa Manufacturing including Glass Technology Services, The University of South Wales and Glass Futures to develop techniques for using CO2 fluids for electricity generation from foundation industry waste heat. 

To find out more about the environmental impact of glass and the UK industry, Dr Nick Kirk provided a talk about ‘Glass and the environment’ as part of Glass Technology Services’ glass webinar series, where he discussed UK production, carbon and emissions reductions, recycling and energy saving products. 

Webinar replays can be accessed on the Glass Technology Services website

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