The United Kingdom’s (U.K.) Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero has distributed more than $102 million* to companies across the U.K. to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives. Among those included is Glass Futures, which received nearly $9 million* and $14 million* for its members.
Glass Futures is a non-profit membership organization that provides research and development and innovation with the goal of designing high-value and fully sustainable, zero-carbon products.
“The transition away from fossil fuels presents a huge opportunity for our growing green energy sector, and we will continue to make sure U.K. businesses can benefit from its full potential,” says Martin Callanan, Energy Efficiency and Green Finance minister.
The funding will also reach 13 companies participating in an industrial fuel-switching competition, which involves several glass manufacturers. The companies will receive nearly $67 million* combined to support projects to develop low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels, such as hydrogen or biofuels.
How Will Glass Futures Use the Funding?
Glass Futures officials state the governmental funding will be used to fund multiple projects in progress. The projects include rapid dynamic electric boosting of glass furnaces, demonstrating the viability of low-cost biofuels for glass and ceramics and demonstrating hydrogen in the ceramics sector.
CEO Richard Katz says research into electric boosting of glass furnaces has the potential to reduce U.K. carbon emissions by 56% annually. The project will model and develop an optimized approach to deploying electric melting by exploring super-boosted electric furnaces to pave the way for 40-50% boost capability for conventional glass furnaces in the future.
“There is a need to investigate electric boosting and any short-term commercial benefits,” says Katz. “The glass industry operates furnaces that are continually running with long-operation lifetimes, there simply isn’t the time or money to trial new fuel technologies that might not work.”
The project includes installing an electric-boost system at Glass Centers’ new Global Center of Glass Excellence. Testing will assess melting efficiency and the impact of convection currents, product quality and seed count within glass.
Guardian Glass will run a series of models to understand the most beneficial positioning of electrodes for up to 60% electric boost. Encirc is working with Glass Futures to develop automated techniques and control tools, which are capable of rapidly switching between combustion and electricity.
The biofuels project involves assessments to determine whether biofuels can replace natural gas. The testing will include trials at O-I, Ardagh and Encirc, which will all analyze biofuels at their plants. Pilkington U.K. will also trial biofuels on its float glass plant.
*Converted from Pounds to USD on July 10, 2023.