Ammonia-powered boilers for UK industrial heating

Click to learn more about the new partnership between Cardiff University and Flogas Britian.
Click to learn more about the new partnership between Cardiff University and Flogas Britian.

Academics at Cardiff University and off-grid energy supplier Flogas Britain are developing a new ammonia boiler for UK industrial heating applications. The two-year, £3.4 million research project is funded by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero as part of the £55 million Industrial Fuel Switching Competition.

The team at Cardiff have already demonstrated that ammonia-fuelled boilers have “significant advantages” over other low-carbon solutions. Their boiler has been designed to overcome the twin challenges of low flame speed & stability and high nitrogen oxide emissions.

Over the next two years, the team aims to further develop their technology and conduct industrial demonstrations. As part of this, a Centre of Excellence on Ammonia Technologies will be set up at the University, developing its existing world-leading ammonia combustion capabilities. The study is expected to conclude in early 2025.

Over the course of this project, we will bring to life our conceptual design for a 1 MW ammonia-fed steam boiler, creating a prototype and rigorously testing and improving it. At the end of the project, we aim to have a boiler that is fit for commercialisation, and fuelled only by clean ammonia, which Flogas Britain will then supply to customers as an off-grid industrial heating option.

Dr Syed Mashruk, Net Zero Innovation Institute and School of Engineering and Project Lead in Cardiff University’s official press release, 5 July 2023

The off-mains industry in the UK is notoriously hard to decarbonise, and a lot of it is still powered by carbon-heavy oil, so finding cleaner, greener alternatives is a significant, pressing challenge. Ammonia is a key part of this; we believe it’s a compelling, highly effective renewable option for off-grid industry, and an extremely cost effective one too. Plus, businesses running on LPG now, will be able to switch to ammonia in the future with modification to equipment.

James Rudman, Business Development Director at Flogas Britain, in Cardiff University’s official press release, 5 July 2023

Cardiff University is highly active in ammonia research, evidenced through collaborations with other academic institutions and industry. Select initiatives include:

Ammonia-powered industrial boilers are also on the radar of several industry giants. In September 2021, Mitsubishi announced it was developing ‘single and mixed-fuel ammonia combustion boilers’ for industrial applications.

The UK is also exploring ammonia-powered alternatives for the construction industry. In July last year, the UK government funded a partnership made up of MAHLE Powertrain, Clean Air Power and the University of Nottingham to work on the development of ammonia-powered engines based on MAHLE’s existing technology.

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