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.”
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.
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.
Ammonia energy is about the development of technology, but it is also about the mobilization of investment. To be precise, it is about how evolving technology can attract investment and how investment enables technological evolution. A dynamic of this nature is emerging in Australia, where recent citations of ammonia energy in two mainstream venues signal its arrival as a legitimate target for public- and private-sector investment.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E REFUEL Program, whose continued existence seemed to be in doubt two months ago, now appears to be back on track. Invitations were sent a week ago for the ARPA-E REFUEL Program Kickoff, an event that was originally scheduled for April 25 and 26 in Houston. It is now scheduled to take place in Denver on August 16, 17, and 18. Attendance will be by invitation only.
The ammonia-fueled gas turbine (A-GT) seems destined to become one of the key technologies in the sustainable energy economy of the future. Siemens AG, for one, features the A-GT in its vision for “Green Ammonia for Energy Storage and Beyond” and the demonstration system that the company is building at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the U.K. Last month Ian Wilkinson, Siemens’ Programme Manager for the demonstration project, spoke about the project’s progress at the 1st European Power to Ammonia® Conference in Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Although he devoted a slide to the A-GT, the detailed perspective came from another presentation at the conference. This one was delivered by Dr. Agustin Valera-Medina, a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University, one of Siemens’ main green ammonia collaborators.
Recent “On the Ground in Japan” posts have considered the path forward for Japan’s “Hydrogen Society.” Two weeks ago, a post entitled “FCV Uptake and Hydrogen Fueling Stations,” pointed to a lack of marketplace momentum for the products that are supposed to drive the hydrogen society forward in the near term. The uptake of fuel-cell vehicles is off to a very slow start and the construction of hydrogen fueling stations is “not proceeding.”
The same day the post appeared, the Japanese market research firm Fuji Keizai announced the release of a report projecting robust growth for the country’s hydrogen economy. As reported by the on-line news service Smart Japan, the market for selected hydrogen-related goods will start to hit its stride with the arrival of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. At that time, Fuji Keizai projects the market will have a value of approximately ¥700 billion ($6.4 billion). By 2030, the report says, the market will have a value of ¥5,903 billion ($54 billion). This is good news for hydrogen proponents but its import for ammonia energy is not clear.