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A Study of the Balance between Furnace Operating Parameters and Recycled Glass in Glass Melting Furnaces

A Study of the Balance between Furnace Operating Parameters and Recycled Glass in Glass Melting Furnaces

Glass manufacture is a high temperature, energy intensive process.  In the 12 month period to May 2003, the container sector of the industry consumed some 4.64 TWh (4.64 x 109 kWh) of delivered energy.  Over 70% of this energy was used by the furnaces to melt the glass.  Fuel-related CO2 emissions from these furnaces amount to around 650,000 tonnes per year. 

Glass is essentially manufactured from sand, limestone and soda ash - all of which are abundant natural minerals.  However, both limestone and soda ash are carbonates which decompose during the melting process to liberate additional CO2

One of the many virtues of glass is that it can be endlessly re-melted and recycled without any loss in quality.  Producing new items from recycled glass (cullet) reduces CO2 emissions as cullet is easier to melt than the virgin raw materials, so also uses less fuel.  And, it contains no carbonates, so does not release any CO2 during the melting process.  Furnaces melting higher proportions of recycled glass can thus operate at lower fuel inputs.  However, in order to maximise this energy saving potential, the furnace operators need the tools to get the best from the furnace. 

This project has, hopefully, produced the precursor to such a control algorithm.  A mathematical model has been developed which is able to predict furnace energy consumption at various production outputs and cullet levels.  

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The oldest examples of glass are Egyptian beads dating from 12,000 BC.


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