Ammonia cracking to enable hydrogen-fueled power generation in South Korea

Key representatives from Johnson Matthey and Enerbility Doosan sign the new agreement in Changwon, South Korea. Source: Johnson Matthey.
Click to learn more. Key representatives from Johnson Matthey and Enerbility Doosan sign the new agreement in Changwon, South Korea. Source: Johnson Matthey.

Johnson Matthey and Doosan Enerbility will develop hydrogen-fueled, closed cycle gas turbine power plants in South Korea. Johnson Matthey will provide cracking technology and catalysts to convert ammonia into pure hydrogen fuel, while Doosan is currently developing a 380 MW, 100% hydrogen fed gas turbine (which will reportedly be complete by 2027). The two will work together to integrate cracking & CCGT technologies, potentially providing a blueprint for similar power plants in the future. The new partnership also supports the South Korean government’s plans to raise the share of hydrogen-based power generation from zero this year to 2.1% by 2030, and then 7.1% by 2036.

Ammonia cracking, which is helping to lower the entry barrier to combined cycle hydrogen power generation, is a key technology that will contribute to carbon neutrality. This partnership signifies that the entire value chain for combined cycle hydrogen power generation will be built, resulting in hydrogen production through to hydrogen end-users.

Doosan Enerbility Power Services Business Group CEO Hongook Park in Johnson Matthey’s official press release, 1 Dec 2022

In their press release, Doosan notes that the presence of nitrogen as a cracking by-product is beneficial for CCGT operations:

If the ammonia cracking technology is applied to combined cycle hydrogen power plants, the nitrogen that is generated from the ammonia cracking process has the advantage of providing improved hydrogen gas turbine performance, ultimately leading to enhanced energy efficiency.

From Doosan Enerbility’s official press release, 1 Dec 2022

And Johnson Matthey recently presented design & safety considerations for their large-scale cracking technology platform at our Phoenix conference. With large-scale crackers and steam methane reforming units possessing so many similarities, there are key learnings that can (and should) be transferred to the new industry, while some aspects need to be carefully “unlearnt or relearnt”. Discover more here.

Progress in Korea

South Korea is quickly progressing in the ammonia energy space, with more big announcements expected in 2023. At this year’s Australia conference, Hyung Chul Yoon from the Korean Institute of Energy Research presented a thorough run-down of ammonia activities in Korea, including new legislation, targets for imports, targets for use as a power generation fuel, government-backed R&D and the continued growth of the Korean Clean Ammonia Association. Stay tuned for more Korean developments in the new year.

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