The e-GLASS project, advanced technologies for the monitoring of combustion and efficiency of regenerative exchangers in glass furnaces, is an R & D & I initiative funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness within the 2014 Retos Colaboración program.
Within this framework, CIRCE, the University of Zaragoza and the glass manufacturer Verallia have joined forces to increase efficiency in consumption and exhaustive control of emissions from combustion processes. These aspects are especially important for energy-intensive industries such as those in the glass sector. Specifically, in this sector, the main energy consumption takes place in the fusion process, for which a large amount of fossil fuel is required, in this case natural gas. The control of combustion, therefore, is key and strategic in this type of processes.
VERALLIA and CIRCE have jointly worked in the development of new technologies that address different aspects of the process with the same ambitious objective, to improve the performance and operation of the combustion process.
The prototype developed in the framework of the e-GLASS project has been installed and in operation for one year in one of the glass industry´s furnaces. Currently, this regenerator is fully monitored by an automatic system that captures the regenerator images, processes them and determines the regenerator´s blockage degree, showing the results in a computer located in the control room.
Alarms creation by means of the flame diagnosis
To this end, a tool for flame diagnosis has been developed that allows advanced monitoring of the combustion process through digital processing of images. In this way wrong functions can be detected and alarms created that help the operator make decisions. The implementation of these systems at the industrial level has many and varied benefits that positively impact the operation, cost reduction, maintenance and safety of the combustion systems, as well as the digitalization of the industry and the progress towards Industry 4.0.
Fuel savings by analyzing the combustion gases
Likewise, a CO and O2 measurement probe for aggressive environments has been designed that allows continuous monitoring of the combustion efficiency at the glass-melting furnace outlet. The existence of a reliable and continuous measurement system for oxygen and carbon monoxide is essential for the implementation of regulations of the furnace itself that allow significant fuel savings. The main challenge for the development of this type of instruments is the aggressiveness of the environment in which they work: extremely high temperatures (1500 ºC), existence of incandescent particles and corrosive gases.
Monitoring to assess soiling of exchangers
Finally, also in the framework of the e-GLASS project, the teams have jointly worked on the development of a new diagnostic imaging system, which allows continuous monitoring of the status of the regenerator. The system makes possible a reliable and low cost measurement of the degree of soiling of this type of exchangers. At the same time this allows a better planning of the exchanger maintenance tasks, focusing the cleanings only in the areas that are blocked and improving the efficiency of the same. With all this, it is possible to maintain a higher efficiency of heat exchange for longer times and, consequently, reduce the fuel consumption in the furnace. The prototype developed in the framework of the e-GLASS project has been installed and in operation for one year in one of the glass industry´s furnaces. Currently, this regenerator is fully monitored by an automatic system that captures the images of the regenerator, processes them and determines the degree of blocking of the regenerator, showing the results in a computer located in the control room.
A line of research in continious evolution
Over the last years, CIRCE has continued to consolidate the development of its image-based combustion diagnostic research line through several activities carried out within the framework of two projects: the DISIRE project financed under the European program H2020, in collaboration with Dow Chemical Ibérica, and the national project EGLASS, from the Retos Colaboración program led by Verallia. This line presents a consolidated development since it is an important part of the activities to be carried out within the BAMBOO project in collaboration with ARCELOR MITTAL, which will end in 2022, also funded within the H2020 European framework.