The Italian glass industry is moving steadfastly toward the energy transition. To achieve the goal, innovation and technology take the lead, a valuable combination toward a sustainable and low-energy industry, as witnessed by the experience of the O-I plant in Villotta di Chions, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, through the adoption of Oxy Fuel technology.
Oxy Fuel technology and circular reuse
The plant has initiated a project to use Oxy Fuel technology, which employs oxygen-fuel burners to optimize furnace combustion capacity.
This system has promoted a reduction in energy consumption of more than 38 percent and a reduction in emissions close to 80 percent. This is an incredible advantage, considering the 1.1 billion cubic meters of gas consumed annually by the glass industry, which is responsible for 2 percent of national consumption.
As anticipated, the use of oxygen in glass melting furnaces improves efficiency and reduces pollution from industrial combustion processes. In addition, the circular reuse of heat from the flue gas allowed the preheating of scrap glass, recording significantly lower energy consumption in the melting stage.
Last but not least, the water used to absorb waste heat from the equipment was also reused to heat the plant’s rooms.
The decarbonization of the sector
As stated by Marco Ravasi, President of Assovetro, Oxy Fuel technology represents one of the possible solutions for the glass sector, which currently disposes of “a diversified portfolio of technological alternatives, such as: the direct use of electricity generated from renewables, green fuels such as hydrogen or biomethane, and CO2 capture”.
The example of the Friuli plant confirms the intentions of a supply chain that over the past half-century has spent heavily on decarbonizing its production system by reducing energy consumption (-70 percent), lightening glass products (-30 percent) and halving carbon dioxide emissions.
To proceed on this green path, the glass sector will now need to be protected and fostered by medium- and long-term plans and policies designed for the strategic development of energy infrastructure.
Sources: assovetro.it, rinnovabili.it