Green ammonia will be the workhorse of the hydrogen economy.
Ammonia will enable the rise of the hydrogen economy.
Pure hydrogen is difficult to handle. Transporting hydrogen requires liquefaction to -253 C or compression to 700 atmospheres. This is expensive.
By contrast, ammonia transportation has been around for a long time. The chemical and fertilizer industries have used ammonia for over 100 years. Transporting ammonia requires liquefaction to only -33 C or compression to just 7 atmospheres.
Given the ease of transport, 85% of export-oriented low-carbon hydrogen projects plan to ship ammonia, not pure hydrogen.
Storing ammonia is much easier than storing hydrogen, estimated to be thirty times less expensive.
Using ammonia is simpler and easier. It will ease the transport and storage of hydrogen to decarbonize energy and industry.
Solar panels generated 3.4% of the world’s electricity in 2021, up from 1.0% in 2015. Since 2008, solar panel costs have declined from $4 / watt to under $0.50 / watt.
Wind generated 6.7% of the world’s electricity in 2021, up from 3.4% in 2015. Costs for wind have declined steadily from $3 / watt in 1995 to $2 / watt in 2010 and are now closing in on $1 / watt, as turbines become ever larger and more efficient.
A solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) uses electrical energy to convert H₂O into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The SOEC runs intermittently to consume electricity when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining.
Nearly 80% of air is nitrogen (N₂).
Water (H2O) + Renewable Power
Hydrogen Gas (H2) + Oxygen Gas (O2)
The electrolysis of water from renewable power produces hydrogen without touching a carbon atom.
Hydrogen Gas (H2) + Nitrogen Gas (N2)
Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch "invented a way to turn air into bread...Their work stands, I believe, as the most important discovery ever made."
The Alchemy of Air
Ammonia is one of the only carbon free fuels available to clean up emissions caused by shipping. The use of ammonia as a fuel for the maritime industry will grow to 197 million tons per year.*
The use of ammonia as a fuel for power generation will reach 30 million tons per year, a conservative estimate based upon policy statements from the Government of Japan.* As a fuel that can be stored indefinitely, ammonia will supply “peaker” power plants to complement intermittent renewable power production.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Development of ammonia fueled engines for surface and air transportation is well underway with several companies in advanced stages of commercialization and a NASA study supporting ammonia as a fuel for commercial air transportation.
Existing ammonia demand will grow for fertilizer to 267 million tons per year and for industrial uses to 67 million tons per year.*
* International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 2050 projections
(Back to the air)