CO2-neutral Saint-Gobain industrial site Herzogenrath - feasibility studies



Jonas van Ouwerkerk

Head of Section Battery Grid Integration and Storage System Analysis


+49 241 80 49373



Motivation & objective

The ambitious yet urgent climate targets of the Paris Agreement call for swift action from national and regional policymakers as well as industry. Saint-Gobain has set itself the goal of achieving CO2 neutrality worldwide by 2050. This target is a particular challenge for the energy-intensive glass industry.

The Saint-Gobain site in Herzogenrath, with its flat glass production (float glass) and further processing into automotive glazing, would like to achieve CO2 neutrality already by 2030 and play a pioneering role both regionally and internationally. On the one hand, this serves to secure the site, among other things by steering internal group investments. On the other hand, it is intended to provide the benchmark for the feasibility of such a project by 2030, which has enormous multiplication potential both within the group and externally.



The first part of the project focuses on feasibility studies of the CO2-neutral float glass plant. To this end, numerical simulations will first be developed to investigate the effects of increasing e-boosting (electric heating) and firing with hydrogen on the glass quality and on the refractory materials. The main innovation then lies in the next step of pre-validation at a laboratory scale and in experiments on an existing and operated industrial plant. This will allow a wide-ranging assessment of what a carbon-free float plant might look like in the future. The goal is to address the main risks (heat transfer, pollutant emissions, glass quality, lifetime, refractory materials, among others) identified for the application of hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels in the float glass furnace. The knowledge gained can be used to develop the future plant design for the float glass plant in Herzogenrath in follow-up projects.

The second part of the project deals with the integration of the findings from the first part into an overall system that is intelligent in terms of energy and heat technology. The development of such a smart infrastructure is a unique selling point of the project and includes the coupling of all sectors and networking of the entire site with the surrounding energy system. The holistic optimization of energy and process systems is an important component in order to design them efficiently on an industrial scale according to economic and ecological aspects. The focus is also on the synergy potential of various components and sectors, which must be identified and exploited through an optimized operation. In addition to a supply of regenerative electricity sources, decarbonized heat supply and integration as well as the interaction of energy carriers and sectors (electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, process heat, local and district heating, mobility) play a particularly important role here. The special regional situation and the cross-site interaction with the Herzogenrath Energy Park offer a unique opportunity for holistic energy system optimization.



01.01.2022 – 28.02.2025




Partners and their general task or position in the project

  • Saint-Gobain Research Germany (SGR Germany), Saint-Gobain Sekurit Deutschland GmbH
    Managing the consortium leadership and external representation of the project.
  • Saint-Gobain Glass Deutschland GmbH
    Contribution of complementary competence in the field of glass production for the construction and automotive market.
  • Gas and Heat Institute Essen e.V.
    Performing numerical simulations and measurements on high-temperature furnaces. In addition, expertise is contributed in the field of GIS analyses, system considerations, and potential analyses.
  • Saint-Gobain Conceptions Verrières (SGCV)
    Coordination of the use of hydrogen technology in the float glass plant from laboratory to industrial implementation. Contribution competences in the field of glass melting processes, which is based, among other things, on the use of special laboratory equipment. In addition, the CFD models used for industrial glass furnace applications are developed here.
  • Chair of Technical Thermodynamics (LTT) of RWTH Aachen University
    Analysis and optimization of the overall energy system according to energetic, economic, and ecological aspects.
  • Department for Industrial Furnaces and Heat Engineering (IOB) of RWTH Aachen University
    Carrying out flow and temperature measurements of the complex high-temperature processes at the Herzogenrath site. In addition, IOB contributes comprehensive expertise in the field of flow simulation.