Japanese giants explore renewable ammonia production in Chile

Solar-to-ammonia in northern Chile

The Tocopilla solar-to-ammonia project, being developed by Mitsui & Co., Toyo Engineering and Enaex. Source: Enaex.
Click to learn more. The Tocopilla solar-to-ammonia project, being developed by Mitsui & Co., Toyo Engineering and Enaex. Source: Enaex.

Mitsui & Co., Toyo Engineering and Enaex will develop a renewable ammonia demonstration-sized project in Tocopilla, northern Chile. The solar-powered, 18,000 tonnes per year plant will be built by 2025, and the trio are focused on achieving stable ammonia production from variable solar energy generation (via supporting technologies). Lessons from the demonstration project will then be applied to the development of a commercial-scale facility, which Mitsui and Enaex are already planning. KBR’s K-GreeN® has been selected as the ammonia synthesis technology for the plant.

Learn more about the HyEx project, via Enaex’s YouTube channel.

The demonstration-sized ammonia plant forms one part of the HyEx project. Enaex and ENGIE have already been engaged for a number of years in the development of the electrolysis plant and associated hydrogen infrastructure, which will be powered by ENGIE’s solar PV assets in the area. Ammonia produced in Tocopilla will be transported down the coast to Mejillones, where Enaex will produce ammonium nitrate explosives for use in the mining industry. We will be hearing more from Enaex and ENGIE on the HyEx project in our upcoming Project Features webinar: register here to join the event on Tuesday 21 Feb.

Just outside of Tocopilla, Sumitomo and Chilean transmission utility Colbún will explore renewable hydrogen production from the under-development Inti Pacha solar installation (486 MW). The hydrogen will be used to produce ammonia, which will be exported from the port of Mejillones (Spanish language), where a Sumitomo subsidiary (Interacid) has existing facilities for the import of sulfuric acid.

Mega wind-to-ammonia in southern Chile

Sumitomo and Colbún are also exploring a million-tonne-per-year ammonia production project in the Magallanes region, home to Chile’s most promising onshore wind resources. The pair will embark on a feasibility study including construction of port facilities. Two major ammonia projects are already underway in Magallanes: CIP, AustriaEnergy & Ökowind’s HNH project, and Total Eren’s 4.4 million tonnes per year H2 Magallanes project.

Proton Ventures contracts engineering partner for South American projects

And Fitchner will assess the feasibility of Proton’s planned renewable ammonia plants in Europe, South America and potentially Africa. In November 2021, Proton (as part of the Transhydrogen Alliance consortium) announced a 2.5 million tonnes per year ammonia project at the Pecém manufacturing complex in the Brazilian state of Ceará. Ammonia will be exported from Brazil to Rotterdam.

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