Hydrogen & ammonia developments in the USA

Mitsui & Co., CF Industries team up to explore blue ammonia opportunities, link US and Japan

Click to enlarge. CF Industries’ current north American ammonia infrastructure. Source: CF’s Commitment to Clean Energy Economy, Ammonia Energy Conference 2020.

As part of the new partnership, Mitsui & Co. and CF Industries will explore the feasibility of blue ammonia production in the US, presumably based around CF Industries’ existing (and extensive) ammonia production & transport infrastructure there. The partnership will also explore blue ammonia economics and “marketing opportunities” in Japan, raising the possibility of a supply chain between the US and Japan for blue ammonia. This month we’ve already seen the beginnings of a Canada-Japan blue ammonia supply chain, with Itochu and Petronas Canada looking to establish a 1 million tonne per year blue ammonia facility in Alberta.

CCS hydrogen in Pennsylvania

Clinton County is the home to the KeyState to Zero project. Originally planned as a fertiliser (then an ammonia and urea) production facility, the project’s developers have pivoted to hydrogen and CCS. KeyState to Zero would be the first commercial CCS project in the northeast, and one of a handful in the US.

The Infrastructure Bill

Click to learn more via Recharge. The US Senate passes the Infrastructure Bill. Source: WSJ.

Passed by the Senate, the Infrastructure Bill allocates US$9.5 billion to drive the cost of clean hydrogen to less than $2/kg by 2026. Four regional hubs will demonstrate the production and use of green, blue and pink (nuclear) hydrogen.

Importantly, the bill also puts a legal definition on clean hydrogen as being “produced with a carbon intensity equal to or less than 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent produced at the site of production per kilogram of hydrogen produced”. By contrast, current, best-practice hydrogen production from gas or coal emits 9-12kg for every kilogram hydrogen produced. More information and analysis at Recharge. The full text can be accessed here.

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Joe Beach

“Clean hydrogen” being defined as hydrogen “produced with a carbon intensity equal to or less than 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent produced at the site of production per kilogram of hydrogen produced” may be an improvement compared to SMR hydrogen’s 9-12 kg CO2 per kg of H2, but it is still inadequate for solving CO2 pollution induced climate change. The only solution that solves the climate crisis is _ZERO_ CO2 produced per kg of hydrogen (or ammonia) produced. Furthermore, this definition would allow hydrogen to be produced from methane via pyrolysis to make solid carbon at the site (not CO2),… Read more »

Trevor Brown

Valid points, Joe. You might also mention that you could technically build a coal-fed power plant down the road to power electrolyzers on site and, within this definition, produce perfectly dirty “clean” hydrogen or ammonia with near-zero emissions “at the site of production.” Not to mention the omission of other upstream emissions like methane leaks. That’s upstream – for the downstream, it’s also not clear exactly what consideration CO2 utilization (urea?) is meant to receive within this definition. However, while this Clean Hydrogen definition will clearly need to be revisited and refined in the coming months and years, it seems… Read more »