The Slovenia Times

Hrastnik glassworks makes bottles for Bacardi using hydrogen

Bottles made by Steklarna Hrastnik for Bacardi using hydrogen-fuelled technology. Photo: Steklarna Hrastnik

Steklarna Hrastnik, Slovenia's leading glassworks, has manufactured bottles for spirits company Bacardi using hydrogen to melt glass in what it says is the first commercial use of hydrogen in the glass packaging industry.

Using a hybrid furnace, Steklarna Hrastnik replaced more than 60% of natural gas with hydrogen as fuel to melt the glass for Bacardi bottles, cutting the carbon footprint of the melting process by more than 30% compared to standard technology.

The company says the achievement is a major technological and innovation milestone, given the concerns that producing premium glass would not be feasible and economically viable using high levels of hydrogen as an energy source.

"Applying its own development, Steklarna Hrastnik has now refuted this, confirming that the replacement of natural gas, the traditional energy source in the production process, is possible and well within the existing quality requirements," the company said.

"Hydrogen above 50% in a mixture with natural gas has a significant effect on the combustion characteristics of the mixture. However, we have been able to use up to 100% hydrogen on individual burners. On average, we used 62% of hydrogen for melting," Tilen Sever, director of development, technology and innovation, was quoted as saying.

According to him, the combustion efficiency of hydrogen was similar to that of natural gas and hydrogen had no significant impact on glass clarification or discolouration.

Steklarna Hrastnik says the achievement consolidates its position as a leading European producer of high-quality glass packaging and a pioneer in the green transformation of the glass industry.

According to Bacardi, Steklarna Hrastnik produced 150,000 of the brand's 70cl ST-GERMAIN elderflower liqueur bottles over the course of the trial. The bottle is identical in appearance to the bottle produced using traditional methods and will reach bars and stores in the coming weeks, Bacardi said.

The glassworks plans to follow up the successful first commercial production of hydrogen-powered glass bottles in 2024 with new production batches for its clients. It estimates the share of low-carbon glass packaging produced using hydrogen and other sustainable technologies could reach up to 15% of its total production in the coming years.

Based in Hrastnik in east-central Slovenia and owned by the Slovenian-owned Vaider Group, Steklarna Hrastnik employs more than 600 people. It posted €99 million in sales revenue in 2022, with a further 20% growth planned for this year.

In the last six years, the company invested more than €93 million in modernisation. It stopped producing lightshades and glasses to focus on production of premium liquor, wine and water bottles, becoming one of three leading European manufacturers.

The company generates 97% of its sales on foreign markets, exporting to 60 countries. Its top markets are Italy, France and Germany.

Photo by Steklarna Hrastnik


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