The milestone comes as the facility implements new technology to enhance the environmental performance of the glass-manufacturing process for Starphire Ultra-Clear glass and other residential and commercial flat glass products.
The process, which involves injecting ammonia into the facility’s oxygen-fueled (oxy-fuel) glass furnace, will reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, making it one of the lowest NOx-emitting float glass plants in the US.
Using cleaner, more environmentally advanced processes in its operations has been a hallmark of the plant’s efforts to manufacture glass more efficiently and reduce its carbon footprint.
In 2000 Fresno became the first flat glass manufacturing plant in the company to install and operate an oxy-fuel float tank. At the time, the facility was the lowest NOx-emitting plant in the US.
In 2014 the float glass tank was relined and a new furnace was installed. That summer, the plant started manufacturing Starphire Ultra-Clear glass with oxy-fuel furnace technology.
Starphire glass is believed to be the only ultra-low-iron glass in the world manufactured on an oxy-fuel float glass line.
Operated with Vitro-owned and patented technology, the furnace uses oxygen to combust sand, silica and other raw materials, reducing natural gas consumption by 15%, carbon emissions by 10% and NOx emissions by more than 50% compared to traditional gas/air-fired glass furnaces.
The Fresno plant is one of only six flat glass production facilities worldwide to use this process in its manufacturing operations.
The plant was acquired by Vitro Glass in 2016 when the company purchased PPG’s flat glass manufacturing and glass coatings operations in the US and Canada.
The Fresno plant employs 150 people and produces 600 tons of glass per day, ranging in thickness from 2.5 to 12mm.
Javier Gutierrez, plant manager, said: “We’ve made excellent progress improving our furnace operation, and we’ve made numerous upgrades throughout the plant to ensure that we’re safe, productive and efficient.”
Greg Morris has been editor of Glass International and organiser of the Glassman conferences since 2012, specialising in glass packaging. Prior to this he spent five years working in newspaper journalism.
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