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Cardiff University Launches Ammonia Gas Turbine Project

Last week Agustin Valera-Medina, Associate Professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, told Ammonia Energy that work is underway on a £1.9 million (USD $2.3 million) project that will advance the frontiers of ammonia-gas turbine (AGT) technology. Valera-Medina is serving as the Principal Investigator of the Storage of Ammonia for Energy (SAFE) – AGT Pilot, a four-year effort that hopes to develop “a unique, competitive technology that can be implemented to support the hydrogen transition.”

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Flattening the climate risks curve

The COVID-19 pandemic is a human tragedy of epic proportions. It directly affects the life and livelihoods of people all around the world as an unprecedented healthcare and economic crisis. It is clear by now that COVID-19 marks an inflection point or “black swan” event in history that will have a shaping influence on society and the economy for many years to come; a post COVID-19 era will begin. In the same way that the developing renewable energy industry significantly benefited from the economic stimulus packages to address the financial crisis of 2008/2009, we now have the opportunity to kick-start the next important phase of global CO2 emissions reduction through support of the developing CO2 Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) & Clean Hydrogen Economy. Many of these clean technologies have been proven at industrial scale and implementation has started. Still, commercial projects will continue to need financial incentives for broad deployment that will enable accelerated technology maturation and reductions in project risk and cost. With the support from COVID-19 stimulus packages, the private sector will be able to execute CCUS & Clean Hydrogen projects in the near-term, secure and create jobs, grow the economy and mitigate the risk of “green swan” climate change events through significant CO2 emissions reduction.

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Industry consortium announces feasibility study for co-firing ammonia in thermal power plants

In March 2020, IHI Corporation, JERA Co., and Marubeni Corporation announced a feasibility study "to evaluate possible applications for the co-firing of ammonia in thermal power plants." The Japanese companies have contracted with NEDO to deliver detailed technical and economic analysis on the use of ammonia as a direct fuel for power generation. In addition, with support from Woodside Energy in Australia, they "will examine the construction and operation of world-scale ammonia facilities and the optimisation of supply chain costs" to support "large-scale export of hydrogen as ammonia."

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Green Financing Sighted in Australia’s Ammonia Industry

Last month the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced that it has “signed an AUD $400 million [USD $256 million] three-year bilateral sustainability-linked loan” with Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers. This represents at least the second occasion on which an ammonia producer has linked its cost of capital to progress in meeting sustainability goals. In July 2019, Yara announced that it had signed a USD $1.1 billion revolving credit facility with a group of 13 lenders whose margin “will be adjusted based on Yara’s progress to meet its carbon intensity target by 2025.”

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Green ammonia plants win financing in Australia and New Zealand

In recent weeks, governments in Australia and New Zealand have announced major financial awards to accelerate development of local green ammonia plants. In Australia, ARENA awarded AU $995,000 (US $0.6 million) to Yara and ENGIE for their solar ammonia pilot at Yara Pilbara. In New Zealand, the Provincial Growth Fund gave NZ $19.9 million (US $11.3 million) to Ballance-Agri Nutrients and Hiringa Energy for their wind-fed ammonia plant at Kapuni. Both projects will demonstrate that an existing fossil ammonia plant can be decarbonized in increments. Renewable hydrogen can be introduced in small amounts, displacing only a fraction of the plant's natural gas consumption but demonstrating and de-risking the technologies. Then, the renewable energy farms and electrolyzers can be scaled-up in stages, eventually replacing all the natural gas requirements and completing the conversion of a fossil asset to a renewable asset.

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Ammonia Included in Japan’s International Resource Strategy

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has singled out ammonia for the role it can play in the country’s creation of a "carbon-free society." The news was embedded in METI’s New International Resource Strategy which was released on March 30. In the report's framing, ammonia is cited for its association with “the concept of importing renewable energy produced in other countries.” In a departure from the practice found in most reports on the energy transition, the ammonia discussion stands alone and not as one item on a roster of potential renewable energy vectors.

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Wärtsilä Tests Internal Combustion of Ammonia

Last week Wärtsilä, the Finnish engine and energy equipment manufacturer, unveiled the latest stage in its engagement with ammonia as an energy vector. In a press release headlined “Wärtsilä advances future fuel capabilities with first ammonia tests,” the company described a test program aimed at exploring ammonia’s properties as an internal combustion fuel. Kaj Portin, General Manager of Fuel & Operational Flexibility in Wärtsilä’s Marine division, commented that “the first tests have yielded promising results.”

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South Australia Planning Hydrogen Export Strategy

The state of South Australia earlier this month issued a tender for professional services under the title “Hydrogen Export Study, Modelling Tool and Prospectus.” The tender is a further step in the state’s campaign to become a major exporter of renewable energy in the form of green and/or blue hydrogen. The results of the study are expected to “inform key considerations such as locations for hydrogen production and export, volume of supply potential, the interdependencies of hydrogen supply chain infrastructure, and the landed cost of clean hydrogen exported from South Australia.”

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Literature Review: Ammonia as a Fuel for Compression Ignition Engines

The diesel engine, also known as the compression ignition (CI) engine, has been a workhorse of the modern energy economy for more than a hundred years. Its role in the coming sustainable energy economy will be determined by its ability to co-evolve with climate-friendly fuels. Two researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan have now examined the fit between ammonia and the CI engine. Pavlos Dimitriou and Rahat Javaid arrive at a two-part conclusion in their paper, “A review of ammonia as a compression ignition engine fuel,” published in January in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. Part one is good news: “Ammonia as a compression ignition fuel can be currently seen as a feasible solution.” Part two is a dose of qualifying reality: to manage emissions of N2O, NOx, and unburnt NH3, “aftertreatment systems are mandatory for the adaptation of this technology,” which means that ammonia-fueled CI engines are likely to be feasible “only for marine, power generation and possibly heavy-duty applications where no significant space constraints exist.”