Low Carbon Fuel Alternatives for Glass and Foundation Industries


World-First Hydrogen Trial

Thought to be a world-first, the ‘Hydrogen for the ceramics sector’ project reviewed the feasibility of converting the UK ceramics sector to kilns that can be fired with up to 100% hydrogen fuels as the industry works towards net-zero targets.

Led by British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) along with 12 member companies from the BCC’s Hydrogen Project Working Group, representing key areas of the ceramics sector (bricks, roof tiles, floor/wall tiles, sanitaryware, refractories, drainage pipes and tableware). Trials were carried out on Glass Futures’ multi-fuel combustion testbed rig.

The glass and ceramic industries share common challenges when transitioning furnaces and kilns from natural gas to low-carbon hydrogen fuels. As such, it makes sense for the two sectors to collaborate and pool resources and knowledge to develop solutions to these challenges.

The BCC members involved are Wienerberger, Churchill China, DSF Refractories, Forterra, Hinton Perry & Davenhill, Ibstock, Ideal Standard, Johnson Tiles, Marley, Michelmersh, Naylor and Wavin.

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Low Carbon Fuel Alternatives

The UK glass sector employs 23,200 people, generates £3bn in revenue and contributes £1.6bn GVA to the UK economy. Whilst the sector has made progress by halving emissions in the last 50 years, there is a need to urgently accelerate efforts to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions to meet the UK’s 2050 carbon commitments.

Last year, Glass Futures demonstrated real climate action with a revolutionary mass-production trial proving glass bottles can be manufactured from sustainable low carbon biofuels replacing natural gas whilst using only 100% recycled glass.

Glass Futures, a not-for-profit research and technology organisation was awarded a £7.1m contract in 2020 by The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme to research and deliver new energy sources to the glass industry.

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Container Glass

Flat Glass

Research Trials

A Future Built on Collaboration

Glass is the kindest packaging material for the health of the planet and the health of people. It’s made from four simple ingredients: sand, soda ash, limestone and recycled glass.

Beyond its health benefits, glass is 100% recyclable and infinitely recyclable, making it the perfect material to support a circular economy.

However, glass manufacture is still carbon intensive but the glass industry is changing and taking responsibility by asking ‘what comes next?’.

Glass Futures is opening a £54m pilot line in 2023 to accelerate the transition to net-zero.

The Global Centre of Excellence will provide a platform for partners from industry, academia and the organisation’s membership to access an experimental scale furnace to test and run trials for implementation at commercial scale on a state-of-the-art line, both collaboratively and individually.