Schott reports successful trials of using 35% hydrogen for industrial-scale glass production, with plans to use 100% hydrogen in future lab-scale tests.
The speciality glass manufacturer wants to avoid using fossil fuels in the long term and has set a goal of becoming climate-neutral in production by 2030.
To achieve this, Schott will focus on two paths: the electrification of the furnaces based on green electricity and the use of green hydrogen.
In the ‘H2-Industry’ research project, Schott tested the addition of hydrogen in large-scale melting trials at its Mainz site (Germany) through December 2022.
The Mainzer Stadtwerke supported the project with a mobile mixing station in which the natural gas-hydrogen mixture was produced.
Step by step, the hydrogen was ramped up to 35% by volume, in the plant designed and operated by Mainzer Netze GmbH.
The test was pioneering for the glass industry and the high temperatures necessary for glass melting were achieved.
However, the team of experts still faces many unanswered research questions.
For example, how hydrogen affects the complex melting processes and the quality of the finished products. The experts are now analysing the quality of the melted glasses in greater depth.
Dr Jens Schulte, a member of the Schott Board of Management, said: "The tests are going very well and show that a transformation of our technology is possible.
"We will only solve the transformation of the energy transition in co-operation with strong partners and with the help of politics.
“Despite our environmentally-friendly production processes, climate protection agreements and corresponding infrastructure investments are essential for the German industry to remain competitive."
The total cost of the research project is over €714,000.
The Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, and Mobility is providing approximately €338,000 as part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Schott is using its test results to further advance its research into the climate-friendly transformation of glass melting.
The melting experts plan to conduct lab-scale tests with 100% hydrogen this year.
However, while research into the highly complex melting processes is in full swing to make Schott "H2-ready" in its production, many technological and infrastructural hurdles still exist.
The biggest challenge is the availability of green hydrogen produced from renewable energies.
Schott is currently using ‘grey’ hydrogen for the trial. ‘Green’ hydrogen, produced using renewable energies, is currently not available on the market in sufficient quantities.
To use it on a large scale in the industry, a complete supply infrastructure needs to be built, and renewable energies need to be expanded so that sufficient green electricity is available.
Dr Schulte said: "This large-scale trial makes it clear that climate-friendly technologies in energy-intensive industries work. We must not let up on climate protection now. Quick solutions are needed."