Pilkington Runs Whole Furnace on a Hydrogen Blend

  • 25 Oct 2021

Leaders recently gathered at Pilkington UK in St Helens to drive the conversation around hydrogen marking the North West ‘stop’ on the Decarbonised Glass Alliance’s (DGA) Hydrogen Roadshow. 

The event brought together HyNet and HyDeploy project team members with industry and local stakeholders to discuss the region’s innovative hydrogen activities and development. Home to glass-making since 1826, Pilkington UK’s Greengate site in St Helens has recently undertaken two ground-breaking demonstrations of using hydrogen to replace natural gas.

It was announced that Pilkington UK has just completed a pioneering project using a blend of hydrogen with natural gas in the furnace, running for a full five-day period.


The successful demonstration proved that the full furnace could be run safely on the hydrogen blend, without compromising on quality standards or operational performance. Each day during the trial, two tonnes of hydrogen were consumed – which could have provided an equivalent hydrogen blend to approximately 30,000 average-sized homes.

This new demonstration follows on from the news that, back in August, Pilkington achieved a global first by firing 100% hydrogen in part of the furnace. 

The event marked the latest leg of a UK-wide roadshow, demonstrating the role that hydrogen will play in helping meet the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Launched in Westminster on 18th October, the ambitious national tour, led by the DGA, will run until 27th October, ending the weekend before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. The DGA’s goal – with the support of members, Hydrogen Now, the UKHFCA and BEIS – is #GettingNetZeroDone.

Matt Buckley, Managing Director of Pilkington United Kingdom Ltd, part of the NSG Group, comments:

“We are proud to sit at the forefront of hydrogen innovation in the glass industry. Our team’s collaborations with HyNet and HyDeploy are enabling huge steps forward to be taken, as we work towards the decarbonisation of our activities.

“Both trials have successfully demonstrated that it is possible to use hydrogen to safely and effectively fire a float glass plant. We now look forward to HyNet being fully up and running from 2025 in order to turn these demonstrations into reality.”

Speaking about the Roadshow, Chris Barron, DGA chair, says:

“Hydrogen can help us meet the UK’s ever-pressing need for net zero carbon emissions, safely, at low cost, with minimal disruption, and while creating thousands of sustainable jobs across the country.

“It has a particularly valuable role to play in the hard to decarbonise sectors – transport, industry and heat. As a nation, we rely heavily on these industries, but they account for 40% of UK greenhouse gases. We must work together to create a deliverable pathway to a net zero energy infrastructure.”

Elaborating on the hydrogen innovation being demonstrated in the North West, David Parkin, HyNet’s Project Director, comments:

“For industry to play its part in the UK’s drive to Net Zero, we must tackle our carbon emissions from gas.  HyNet is working across the North West and North Wales regions to provide our vital industries with low carbon hydrogen, enabling them to flourish through our energy transformation. 

“These demonstrations are proving to industry that the switch to hydrogen is not only possible, but just around the corner.

“HyNet will bring employment and economic growth to the North West region, kick-starting a low carbon hydrogen economy.  We are focused on reducing emissions and protecting the North West’s existing 340,000 manufacturing jobs and creating over 6,000 new, permanent jobs, setting the region on course to be the world leader in clean energy innovation.”

Cllr Andy Bowen, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, St Helens Council, says:

“I’m delighted to be here today to join the DGA roadshow. It’s a real opportunity for the DGA to see what’s happening here in the borough and for us to learn from them about the benefits of hydrogen and the decarbonisation of the gas supply sector.”

The roadshow, which uses a hydrogen car to travel between stops, is currently making its way around the country, visiting multiple ground-breaking projects along its route, to drive greater sustainable energy conversations among the local community, regional industries and political stakeholders.


Pilkington United Kingdom Limited,
Greengate Works,
Sherdley Road,
St. Helens,
United Kingdom,
WA9 5 DZ

Phone: 01744 692000
Fax: 01744 692569

Visit Pilkington Building Products' website

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