The glass and ceramic industries share common challenges when it comes to transitioning furnaces and kilns from natural gas to low-carbon hydrogen fuels. As such, it makes sense for the two sectors to collaborate and pool resources and knowledge to develop solutions to these challenges.
To this end the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) has announced that GBP 300,000 of Government funding has been awarded for a project to study the feasibility of using hydrogen as a fuel for the ceramics sector as the industry pushes to work towards net zero targets.
The funding has been awarded by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for research which will be led by the BCC.
The BCC will work on the project with 12 member companies from the BCC’s Hydrogen Project Working Group, representing key areas of the ceramics sector (bricks, roof tiles, floor/wall tiles, sanitary-ware, refractories, drainage pipes and tableware). Further support will be provided by not-for-profit research and technology organisation, Glass Futures.
The ‘Hydrogen for the ceramics sector’ project will review the feasibility of converting the UK ceramics sector from natural gas fired kilns, to kilns that can be fired with hydrogen fuels (up to 100 percent), laying the groundwork for industrial-scale hydrogen trials in a Phase 2 follow-on project.
The project will provide a comprehensive assessment of the feasibility to switch the ceramics sector to hydrogen through:
- A review into current work being undertaken across the globe into hydrogen technologies for the ceramics sector, building links with other groups working in this field
- Undertaking combustion trials to benchmark a range of hydrogen fuel scenarios (up to 100 percent) against natural gas, assessing the impact on ceramics bodies being fired under such conditions
- Undertaking an economic modelling exercise to assess the costs of switching industrial ceramics sites to hydrogen
- Scoping out and planning industrial-scale hydrogen trials at a range of ceramics manufacturing sites
The group will also look to engage with other industrial sectors and ceramics research groups including outside the UK.
Rob Ireson, Innovation and Partnerships Manager at Glass Futures, said, “We’re delighted the BCC has chosen Glass Futures as the preferred partner to lead their investigations. It’s great that we’ve been able to use the experience and knowledge gained from our recently completed Industrial Fuel Switching (IFS) Phase 3 programme to help the BCC Hydrogen project team secure funding in the latest round of the IFS competition.
“As part of this work, the Glass Futures team is making a number of modifications to our multi-fuel combustion test-bed rig, which includes incorporating the capability to use hydrogen fuels from ambient temperatures and the ability to fire ceramics products within the combustion chamber.”