KTN is supporting Pilkington Technology Management Limited (PTML), part of NSG Group, via it’s Innovation Exchange platform to identify innovative solutions that could lead to approaches across their business to deliver sustainable net zero manufacturing.

Glass is playing an increasingly important role in society’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the effects of climate change.  NSG Group aims to be the global leader in innovative high-performance glass and glazing solutions, contributing to energy conservation and generation, while working safely and ethically.

Glass production will remain energy intensive and will inevitably contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, NSG Group recognises an obligation to society to minimise that energy use and to ensure that glass contributes maximum net benefit to sustainable development.  NSG Group has a target to reduce absolute GHG emissions by 21%, compared with the 2018 level, by 2030.

The float glass manufacturing process uses high quality sand, limestone, soda ash, dolomite and recycled glass to make glass as thin as 0.4 mm and as thick as 25 mm, with a typical plate width of 3.2 metres and typical length up to 6.0 metres.   A Float plant, which operates 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week for 15 – 20 years, makes around 6000 km of glass a year.

Molten glass, at approximately 1100°C, pours continuously from a furnace onto a shallow bath of molten tin.  It floats on the tin, spreads out and forms a level surface.  The glass thickness is controlled by top rolls attached to the glass ribbon edges, which pull (for thinner glass) and push (for thicker glass), and by the speed at which  the glass ribbon is drawn off the tin bath, at approximately 600°C.  After annealing (controlled cooling) the glass emerges as a ‘fire’ polished product with virtually parallel surfaces.

The reduction of waste and the goal of achieving more efficient and sustainable net zero approaches to energy use, across float manufacturing sites, are of massive consideration for NSG Group.

Defects on the glass ribbon result in waste (materials, energy and time) and the further down the production and processing chain the defect is discovered, the higher the waste and cost to NSG.  Furthermore, defects can prevent achievement of the maximum possible performance of some energy conserving and generating products.

PTML is looking for potential solution providers with existing technology or innovative ideas to resolve the challenge of finding a sensitive measurement device that will be sufficiently robust to operate continuously, in-situ, in the high temperature, relatively dirty environment of a float bath.  However, solutions or ideas for intermittent, in-situ measurement devices, and even extractive devices, would still be considered.

Rewards and benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the challenger. The package may also include:

  • Support from the Catapult networks and KTN
  • Support in the implementation of a pilot or system
  • Technical support
  • Invitation to attend or present at KTN or Catapult events
  • A potential business collaboration
  • Investor introductions (if investment is required)


If you have a solution to this challenge, find out more and apply at KTN’s Innovation Exchange here.