For making glass, two primary materials are necessary : sand and energy. In Europe, tableware and container glass factories are facing two challenges :
decreasing energy consumption to be more competitive
reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Traditionally, energy is provided by burning natural gas with air to get a temperature that is able to transform sand into hot glass ready to be moulded. Oxycombustion that uses pure oxygen instead of air (only 21% oxygen) is a proven efficient way to reduce fuel consumption and therefore to lower production costs.
Currently, oxy-combustion is widely used within glass and metallurgical industries to improve the combustion process, reduce air-pollutant emissions and save fuel. The main principle of Heat Oxy-Combustion is that heat extracted from the combustion fumes is used to heat oxygen and fuel, thereby improving oxy-combustion performance by 10%. Compared to air combustion, the first generation of this technology provides up to 50% energy savings and up to 50% CO2 emission reduction*. The financial viability assessment of the first generation of HeatOx, however, was performed based on the NG price of 2012-2013, and since the inception of the project, natural gas price has plummeted to historically low levels. According to IMF, NG price will be maintained at the current level for the foreseeable future, which means the global deployment of HeatOx technology will be significantly challenged unless new breakthrough in technology is made.
Advanced oxygen solutions for efficiency
Glass is a fully recyclable and sustainable material used in the fabrication of everything from tableware or windows for the automotive and the construction industries to more technical glass, such as flat screens for smartphones. Demand for glass is on the rise due to population and infrastructure growth. Glass is made in furnaces at very high temperatures with a process that requires constant improvement to meet the energy efficiency and environmental challenges posed by the manufacturing cycle.
The second generation proposed through LIFE CleanOx project is to target 50% CAPEX savings compared to HeatOx 1G. Moreover, additional efficiency gain is expected. The success of this 2nd generation of HeatOx will be able to change long lasting paradigm of air combustion in glass furnaces to oxyfuel combustion.
LIFE CleanOx project aims at reducing further the natural gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by preheating more natural and oxygen. The main focus of the LIFE CleanOx project aims to implement at full-scale an innovative technology with a strong positive environmental impact (GHG and energy savings) that will be economically viable, what will ensure its replicability.
LIFE CleanOx project consists in implementing a radiative heat exchanger based on Heat oxy-combustion innovative technology in order to further reduce the environmental impact of the glass-melting process, and it is recognised as one of the best available technologies for reducing CO2 through fuel savings, while also reducing NOx and dust emissions.
The core of HeatOx 2G is direct preheating of NG and O2 with flue gas, which couldn’t be done for the previous generation due to the safety and reliability concern. Now HeatOx 2G with innovative concept enables to overcome the previously identified obstacles and to provide room for even higher efficiency gain.
*Excluding emissions generated for oxygen production