On July 25, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) announced that a collection of companies and research institutions had come together to form a Green Ammonia Consortium. The 22-member group will take over responsibility for the ammonia aspect of the Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Program (SIP) Energy Carriers agenda when the SIP is discontinued at the end of fiscal 2018. A JST press release states that the Consortium intends to develop a strategy for “forming [an] ammonia value chain,” promote demonstration projects that can further commercialization, and enable “Japanese industry to lead the world market.”
Sustainable ammonia can be produced today: doing so would use electrolyzers to make hydrogen to feed the traditional Haber-Bosch process. In a very few years, new technologies will skip this hydrogen production phase altogether and make ammonia directly from renewable power in an electrochemical cell. Further down the pipeline, next generation technologies will mimic nature, specifically the nitrogenase enzyme, which produces ammonia naturally.
One of these next generation technologies is currently producing impressive results at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Chiyoda Corporation, the multinational chemical engineering firm that is arguably the leading proponent of the methyl cyclohexane (MCH) method of hydrogen transport, will start work this month on a project to demonstrate MCH technology in a real-world context. As reported in a July 27 company press release, the project will involve the transportation of hydrogen from Brunei to Japan in what the company states is "the world's first global hydrogen supply chain demonstration project" -- an assertion that many ammonia energy proponents will no doubt find preposterous.
The program for the “NH3 Energy+: Enabling Optimized, Sustainable Energy and Agriculture” Topical Conference is now available for viewing on the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Web portal. The Topical Conference will be held as part of the AIChE's Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in the U.S. on Wednesday November 1 and Thursday November 2. The enveloping AIChE meeting will extend from Sunday October 29 through Friday November 3. “NH3 Energy+” is the 2017 edition of the NH3 Fuel Conference that has been held every year since 2004.
A total of 43 papers will be presented, with 40 spread across five oral presentation sessions and three in a poster session.
A guest editorial by Norm Olson, President of the NH3 Fuel Association.
In 2004, the NH3 Fuel Association began promoting NH3 as the best alternative fuel choice to replace gasoline and diesel fuel.
Recently, I have been using the "NH3 Energy+" title in place of "NH3 Fuel" in presentations to illustrate that the benefits of NH3 go beyond fuels and go beyond energy storage (as important as these two items are). NH3 also provides a tremendous opportunity to significantly improve world food security and enable sustainable, local food production.
New research coming out of Stanford University suggests a fascinating new direction for electrochemical ammonia synthesis technology development.
The US-Danish team of scientists at SUNCAT, tasked with finding new catalysts for electrochemical ammonia production, saw that 'selectivity' posed a tremendous challenge - in other words, most of the energy used by renewable ammonia production systems went into making hydrogen instead of making ammonia.
The new SUNCAT solution does not overcome this selectivity challenge. It doesn't even try. Instead, these researchers have avoided the problem completely.
Earlier this month the Eguchi Laboratory at Kyoto University announced advances in ammonia-fueled solid oxide fuel cell technology. The lab was able to produce a functioning fuel cell with a power output of one kilowatt. The device attained “direct current power generation efficiency” in excess of 50% and reached 1,000 hours of continuous operation.
Following the NH3 Fuel Association’s call last September for the formation of national organizations to advocate for ammonia energy, a chapter of the Association is taking shape in Australia. John Mott, until recently CEO of the Australian industrial refrigeration concern Gordon Brothers, has spearheaded the formation of a local chapter of the NH3 Fuel Association (NH3FA). The chapter will be known informally as the NH3 Fuel Association Oz. Monash University, Australia’s largest university, has agreed to host the organization.