Gas Detection in Glass Production

Glass production is a necessary application as it provides various goods across a variety of industries. Most commonly, glass products create mass manufacturing of float glass as it complies with modern building standards and achieves environmental legislation regulations. 

The main process of glass production is melting, using heat sources to ignite with natural gas and air, or air enriched with pure oxygen. To maintain fire hazard regulations, workers have to measure and control the amount of oxygen and ensure there is a small amount emerging. This is achieved by using a furnace without a feedback process control loop. This part of the process implements oxygen and natural gas-related detection systems while ensuring it can withstand the extreme environment. 

Once the first half of the process is completed, the molten glass is then fed through metal rollers. During this process, measures must be taken to ensure the glass doesn’t react with the rollers and other material handling equipment to limit mitigate damage to the final glass product and extend equipment life. To ensure such, the atmosphere must be injected with sulfur dioxide (SO2) around the equipment, so there is no actual contact between the glass and the equipment. SO2 instead reacts with the surface of the glass, producing chemicals and preventing reactions between the glass and metals. Gas detection is required not only for this stage of the process but in handling and storing as well.   

As the glass passes through to the next stage, there are several gas options to finish the coating stage of glass production. Krypton gas is used as a “sputtering deposition” to cover the surface of the glass with a thin film of metal. This treatment increases its energy efficiency while decreasing the usual need for electrical heating. Silane gas is effective as well, reducing the amount of ultraviolet light (UV) to penetrate the glass while decreasing the health risks of utilizing UV methods. For glass production requiring etching, hydrogen fluoride is used. 

Emissions monitoring is another important factor in float glass production, and essential for gas detection systems. Float glass production facilities are required to monitor and control possible emissions such as carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and SO2. Burning air and the fuel produces large quantities of oxides of nitrogen. At high temperatures, nitrogen reacts with oxygen from the air to produce NOx. Some chemicals present in natural gas, such as sulfur compounds, also react with oxygen from the air to produce SO2. This leads to necessary gas clean-up from the burner to desulphurize (DeNOx) by using an SO2 scrubber, occasionally with carbon dioxide, before the gas is released into the atmosphere. Ammonia can be added to the DeNOx unit because it contains a large amount of hydrogen that is able to reduce the NOx, reacting with oxygen in nitric oxide and converting nitric oxide back to nitrogen. But since ammonia presents its own safety risks, monitoring of storage and use will need to be implemented as well.

Otis Instruments offers a vast selection of Wired and WireFree easy-to-use, robust, and configurable gas detectors and monitors capable of detecting both toxic and non-toxic gases for diverse applications. For more information regarding training for your specific detection system, visit our training page. To ask a question, learn about other solutions for your industry, or need additional information regarding training not available on our website, contact Otis Instruments today!

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