Author: Stephen Crolius

NH3 Energy Implementation Conference: A Brief Report

The 2018 NH3 Energy Implementation Conference, the first of its kind, took place on November 1 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the U.S.. The focus of the Conference was on steps – current and future – that will lead to implementation of ammonia energy in the global economy.  At the highest level, the Conference results validated the relevance and timeliness of the theme.  In the words of closing speaker, Grigorii Soloveichik, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E REFUEL Program, the Conference strengthened his confidence that “ammonia is a great energy carrier ... with billions of dollars of potential in prospective markets.”

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Affiliated NH3 Groups Become a Force for Advocacy

In the last 12 months ...

The vision of a worldwide network of affiliated ammonia energy advocacy groups drew closer to reality.  This a step toward fulfillment of a goal that was conceived in 2016 when the NH3 Fuel Association convened a Global Advisory Board.  The idea was to launch a body that “could help ammonia energy proponents in different countries organize nationally or regionally focused ammonia energy advocacy bodies.”  Over the last year, all four of the Advisory Board’s 'Ambassadors' played leadership roles on behalf of ammonia energy in their respective countries.

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Great Strides in NH3 Commitment and Progress in Australia

In the last 12 months ...

Ammonia Energy has published posts covering pertinent activity in 32 different countries.  In most of them, ammonia’s potential as versatile energy vector has reached the point of avowed interest from relevant institutions.  In a small handful, it has become a part of national policy.  But, as demonstrated in repeated instances throughout the year, nowhere is ammonia energy more robustly embraced than Australia.  The central argument behind this assertion is captured in the phrase, “the complete package,” as in “package of resources, policies, players, partners, and investments.”

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Ammonia Is Taken Up by Wide-Circulation Media

In the last 12 months ...
If a “meme”, in the definition of British psychology professor Susan Blackmore, “is information copied from person to person, including words, stories, technologies, fashions, and customs,” then clearly there is a meme spectrum that has “esoteric knowledge” at one end and “the common wisdom” at the other.  Where does ammonia energy fall on this spectrum?  “Esoteric knowledge” it may once have been, but this is no longer the case with the concept’s first incursions into mainstream reporting this year.

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Ammonia as a Hydrogen Carrier for Hydrogen Fuel Cells

In the last 12 months ...
Consider the attributes that characterize a good hydrogen carrier: liquid state at ambient conditions; high volumetric and gravimetric energy density; low propensity to create lethal hazards when transported, stored, and used.  Now consider that ammonia is superior to hydrogen itself in every one of these areas.  Given this, it stands to reason that proponents of hydrogen fuel cells should embrace ammonia as a valuable enabling technology that can elevate the feasibility and improve the economics of fuel-cell-based systems.  And indeed this embrace became evident over the last year.

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Ammonia as a Grid-Supporting Energy Storage Solution

In the last 12 months ...
We have seen repeated enunciations of a compelling logic chain: electricity generated by wind-based and photovoltaic systems is manifesting ever-more competitive economics; the greater the share of electricity generated by intermittently active resources, the greater will be the need for complementary energy storage systems; chemical forms of “X” in the power-to-X (P2X) stored-electricity construct will surely have a role to play in long-term, large-scale energy storage; ammonia may be the most advantageous chemical for such storage.

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ITM Power, Sumitomo Enter Strategic Partnership

ITM Power and Sumitomo Corporation have entered into a strategic partnership “for the development of multi-megawatt projects in Japan based exclusively on ITM Power’s electrolyser products.”  The two companies will also look for collaborative opportunities outside Japan.  In a July 9 press release, ITM refers to the two companies’ shared vision for “the use of hydrogen to decarbonise heat, transport and industrial processes” as the foundation for the arrangement.

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Ammonia Energy Coming on Like Gangbusters in Australia

NH3FA.Oz, the Australian chapter of the NH3 Fuel Association, held a meeting on August 30 in approximate observance of its one-year anniversary.  John Mott, one of the founders of NH3FA.Oz and a member of the NH3 Fuel Association’s Advisory Board, reported that more than two dozen stakeholders from academia, industry, and the public sector participated.  The meeting came on the heels of the rapid-fire release of three significant reports, and preceded by a week the announcement of an important set of research grants.  The meeting, the reports, and the announcement all made clear that ammonia  is fast becoming a fixture in Australian energy policy.

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Science Publishes “Net Zero Emissions” Paper, NH3 Seen in Prominent Role

Ammonia energy received prominent mention in a review article published in the June 29, 2018 edition of Science magazine.  Science is the flagship publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  The paper, whose main body is almost 7,000 words long, is entitled “Net zero emissions energy systems.”  While the paper's overall mission is to examine “the special challenges associated with an energy system that does not add any CO2 to the atmosphere,” the specific concerns that set it in motion relate to the idea that “energy services essential to modern civilization entail emissions that are likely to be more difficult to fully eliminate.”  The paper is a detailed investigation of technological solutions that can be applied in these areas.  Ammonia is highlighted as an “energy-dense liquid fuel” that could meet the needs of long-distance transportation services including aviation, long-distance trucking, and shipping.

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Ammonia Energy Association Announces 2018 Industry Members

As newly elected President of the Ammonia Energy Association (heretofore the NH3 Fuel Association; a formal name change announcement will be made in the fall), I am very pleased to announce our first class of industry members.  Fourteen companies have joined the Association and thereby made a tangible commitment to ammonia as a clean and affordable staple of the sustainable energy economy of the future.  At the Association’s Annual Meeting on August 15, representatives of the member companies elected eight new Directors to the Board.  Participation on Board committees was also solicited.

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