St Helens’ Pilkington United Kingdom, part of the NSG Group, is leading the switch towards low carbon fuels, completing two ‘world first’ trials of hydrogen being fired in a glass furnace.

The agreement sets Vertex up to supply Pilkington UK with hydrogen as the manufacturer continues to develop low-carbon ways of manufacturing glass.

The NSG Group recently announced an increased level of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a re-certified Science Based Target.

The group wants to reduce its carbon emissions by 30% compared with 2018 levels, by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, from emissions directly associated with its manufacturing to carbon produced in its supply chain.

Pilkington UK glass products range include Pilkington K Glass™ S and Pilkington Suncool™, which help control internal building temperatures and save energy, and bird-safe Pilkington AviSafe™ which is patterned with UV enhanced coating to reduce bird collisions with windows.

Joe Seifert, CEO of Vertex Hydrogen said: “Pilkington has long been admired as an innovator in the glass industry and led a world first trial of flat glass from hydrogen in 2021 at its famous St Helens facility. The offtake agreement is another iconic name in the north west manufacturing region switching to Vertex’s low carbon hydrogen.”

Neil Syder, Managing Director of Pilkington United Kingdom, said it is fully committed to its NSG Group target of achieving Net Zero by 2050.

He said, “Firing the float glass furnace using hydrogen instead of natural gas is a key part of our strategy to reduce carbon emissions. Decarbonising the glass making process represents a significant challenge so it’s critical that we partner with academics and industry groups, particularly here in the North West.”

Vertex is delivering an initial 1,000MW of low carbon hydrogen capacity – enough to provide the fuel consumed by a city the size of Liverpool – and aims to capture 1.8m million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year at full capacity.

It is investing around £1bn in the region and facilitating the investment of a further £1 billion or more of associated infrastructure in developing a low-carbon hydrogen market.

Last year Pilkington UK claimed a world first by firing its furnace on 100% biofuel, which emits substantially less CO2 than natural gas traditionally used in the sector. The fuel derived from waste materials powered the furnace in St Helens entirely for four days.