Glass industry solutions to tackle the climate crisis were among the main topics as the Furnace Solutions conference got underway earlier this morning (Wednesday).

More than 100 people were in attendance as the annual glass manufacturing conference organised by the Society of Glass Technology (SGT) took place in person for the first time in three years.

It was held a a new venue, the Totally Wicked stadium in St Helens, UK, next door to the Glass Futures research and development construction site.

Welcoming guests, Melting Technical Committee Member, Nigel Longshaw, said: "We are now excited to be back with a strong physical conference and new venue.

"The theme this year is focused on the decarbonisation of the glass industry. Our glass colleagues will talk to us of their experience of using alternative fuels together with the logistics involved in getting a new energy source to site."

Speakers in the morning session highlighted the potential benefits of both hydrogen and biofuels as a solution for the industry to reduce its CO2 emissions.

Andy Keeley, of NSG Group, discussed the recent hydrogen trials which had taken place at the company's Greengate, St Helens facility while Wayne Bridger, of BOC, highlighted the group's involvement in the trials.

Mr Bridger discussed the use of hydrogen in the glass process and suggested that, while it has tremendous potential, it may be more than 10 years before adequate infrastructure is in place for it to be used on an industrial scale.

"There is a weight of expectation on hydrogen in the future, there is almost a utopian vision of it. But there is nothing built yet, it is a long horizon and we have problems today."

He suggested a bridging period in the intervening years where glass industry fuel efficiency could be derived from oxy fuel combustion.

His talk was followed by Rob Ireson of Glass Futures who highlighted the potential and challenges of biofuels in the glass production process.

While Glass Futures and container glass manufacturer Encirc have held successful trials using biofuel in the industrial process, there remain concerns over the seasonal availability of some bio-fuels as well competition with other sectors for their availability.

Attendees included glass manufacturers, technology suppliers as well as academia. Among the attendees were O-I, Saint-Gobain, Guardian, Ardagh and Encirc, as well as suppliers such as FIC, Electroglass, Land Ametek, PSR, Sefpro, Zippe and Hotwork International.

The two-day conference includes 14 presentations from companies such as Glass Technology Services, Simpson Combustion, CelSian, DSF, Emisshield as well as the presentation of the Michael Garvey award for best paper.

Furnace Solutions 2022 concludes tomorrow (Thursday June 9).