In August 2021 Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG group, successfully manufactured architectural glass at its St Helens facility using hydrogen power.
The trial was a key step in the manufacturer’s plans to decarbonise and could see a transition to using hydrogen to power all production at the site, which currently uses natural gas. The switch means that the float glass furnace – which accounts for the majority of the company’s overall carbon emissions – would be able to run with hugely lower emissions.
The aim of the trial was to demonstrate that the furnace, in which the raw ingredients of the glass are heated to around 1,600 degrees centigrade, could run safely at full production without impacting product quality.
The three-week trial used approximately 60 road tankers of hydrogen, but the longer-term plan is to create a network of hydrogen pipelines to supply key industrial sites, avoiding the need for road transport.
The initiative is part of the ‘HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching’ project to decarbonise industrial processes across the North West. By 2030, it is expected to cut 10 million tonnes of carbon per year – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.
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