HyGear: the advantages of on-site Hydrogen Generation

2015-08-20 | Industry update

A reliable supply of industrial gases plays a vital role in producing high quality flat glass. Most glassmakers retrieve these gases from industrial gas suppliers or by electrolysis. HyGear offers the cost- and energy saving Hy.GEN™ system, with which the customer can produce its own hydrogen from natural gas.

Sheet of flat glass
In the flat glass production process, hydrogen and nitrogen are required to form a reducing atmosphere over the tin bath. This atmosphere prevents oxidation with the tin to ensure the quality of the glass. 

Mostly, hydrogen is supplied by tube trailers. These trailers transport compressed hydrogen over public roads to the customer. The longer the distance from the hydrogen plant to the customer, the more expensive the hydrogen gets. The same goes for the emitted green house gases like carbon dioxide. To overcome these high costs and emissions, hydrogen can be produced on-site. This doesn’t only decrease the hydrogen costs and harmful emissions, but also increases the reliability of supply.

Until recently, on-site hydrogen supply was only possible by electrolysis. Electrolysis is based on splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by using electricity. The process is very energy intensive and therefore expensive. Especially when electricity prices are high.

More then ten years ago, HyGear succeeded in the development of a small-scale hydrogen generator based on steam reforming. Steam reforming is a hydrogen production process in which natural gas and steam are reformed into hydrogen and an off-gas stream. The advantage of reforming over electrolysis is that the process is much more energy efficient and therefore cost effective. In most countries in the world, the utility expenses and therewith the operational costs of reforming are between 20 and 25% of the costs of e...





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Article taken from Glass-Technology International bi-monthly magazine (6 issues per year)
Year: 2015 number: 4
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