Laurent Cohen-Scali* shares his insights into how SEFPRO’s refractory solutions have a key role to play in the decarbonisation of the glass industry.
The glass industry is entering a new era where new key challenges are arising. While innovation within the glass industry has always been core to its success, whether by continuously enhancing energy and furnace performance, glass quality or promoting circularity, we see a radical paradigm shift related to carbon-neutrality. This shift is the greatest challenge faced by the world today.
As a specialist refractory solution provider to the glass industry, SEFPRO has a key role to play. Helping our customers to meet those new strategic challenges and combine performance with carbon neutrality at each step of furnace life is the essence of our vision: together ‘we shape a carbon neutral glass industry, for a brighter future’. A future made of zero-carbon glass for the generation to come.
Carbon-neutrality is our clear objective and we will continue our efforts, step by step, one furnace at a time, thanks to the commitment, determination and know-how of our team.
Achieving carbon neutrality also means coming together as an industry, combining efforts with all stakeholders. Our refractory solutions have a key role to play in the decarbonisation of the glass industry, but it is only a part of the journey.
We are developing partnerships with major glassmakers and industry partners to support the transition to carbon-neutrality. We are collaborating with PaneraTech to help glassmakers optimise use of their refractory assets and accelerate digitalisation of their furnaces.
Actions and commitments
We acknowledge that, as a key supplier to the glass industry, we weigh on our customers’ Scope 3 carbon footprint. Our environmental impact must also be limited to ensure health and safety of our employees, our partners and neighbouring communities.
Our sustainability roadmap is clear: be carbon neutral by 2050, with objectives to complete by 2030 on water usage, CO2 emissions, circular economy and product stewardship.
In five years, we have already made substantial progress towards achieving these objectives. For example, we managed to reduce water withdrawal by 20% in our plants, reduce our non-recoverable waste by 84% while production increased, and our efforts allowed us to cut 82,000 tons of CO2 emissions on our sites.
From the first fused cast refractories in Modane in 1929, SEFPRO has supported glassmakers in all of their challenges.
All along our history, we have developed solutions for the most demanding glass applications such as pharmaceutical or display glass, this experience and expertise is invaluable today to keep developing new solutions.
Achieving carbon-neutrality will mean going beyond providing the highest performance and quality refractory blocks to becoming an enabling partner to our customers.
Some of our existing solutions remain relevant to address these challenges. Once developed for the display market, Xilec being the highest resistivity refractory on the market is a great choice for electrode blocks in furnaces with increased electrical boosting.
Our fused cast alumina ranges will prove essential to hydrogen and oxygen furnaces. Services – from numerical simulation to 3D scans – will support customers in making the best refractory choices for their furnaces.
Our teams are also working on new solutions and new business models. XiROC – a new refractory material combining the best of AZS and high zirconia - was launched this year.
Another area of development is real time monitoring of regenerator plugging and of sidewall corrosion.
We are delighted to welcome Monofrax and Anhui Sino Refractory (AFR) to the team.
Beyond new products and capacity, they bring a new perspective and customer knowledge which will enhance our ability to serve our customers locally.
Thanks to these acquisitions, our footprint is truly global, which allows us to optimise our supply chain and continually be at our customers’ side to co-develop new solutions for carbon-neutral glassmaking.
*Vice-President SEFPRO, France