Program Announced for NH3 Energy+ Topical Conference

The program for the “NH3 Energy+: Enabling Optimized, Sustainable Energy and Agriculture” Topical Conference is now available for viewing on the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ web portal.  The Topical Conference will be held as part of the AIChE’s Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in the U.S. on Wednesday November 1 and Thursday November 2.  The enveloping AIChE meeting will extend from Sunday October 29 through Friday November 3.  “NH3 Energy+” is the 2017 edition of the NH3 Fuel Conference that has been held every year since 2004.

A total of 43 papers will be presented, with 40 spread across five oral presentation sessions and three in a poster session.  As reported previously, 58 abstracts were submitted, exactly twice the number of papers that were presented at last year’s NH3 Fuel Conference.  This led the AIChE to add a second day to the originally planned single-day program.  It also bolstered the case for shortening presentation slots to 18 minutes.  Another rationale for keeping presentations short, according to conference organizers, is to help attendees maintain their attention over the course of the two-and-a-half-hour sessions.

As is to be expected at an engineering conference, the proceedings will be dominated by the findings of research scientists and engineers.  Papers from teams at 16 universities, six technical institutes, and seven companies will be presented.  Thirteen of these 29 entities have not presented at previous NH3 Fuel Conferences. And, as is to be expected for a movement of global significance, twelve different countries will be represented among the presenters.

The sessions have names like “NH3 Fuel Synthesis” and “NH3 Fuel Use,” but scanning the papers themselves points to a striking conclusion.  The ammonia energy community is working on an extraordinarily diverse array of topics that, taken together, appear to address every facet of a practical, attainable, affordable, and sustainable ammonia-centric energy system.

One way to bring this idea into focus is to consider that an energy system starts with point technologies, and that these are incorporated into unitary systems, which are in turn incorporated into plenary systems of increasing scope and scale, until a global system of energy commerce is reached.

To illustrate, let’s start at the point end of the spectrum with catalyst technologies.  Ammonia synthesis catalysts figure in at least eight of the Conference papers.  Go up a level and we find papers that discuss reaction processes and hardware, including those like Haber Bosch that depend on carefully controlled temperature and pressure parameters, and those involving electrochemistry that depend on carefully chosen anode, cathode, and electrolyte materials.  Go up another level and we find papers that consider the physical context of these production apparatuses by addressing, for example, choice of feedstocks; or setting the scale of production to match feedstock availability and/or local market opportunities; or integrating ammonia production with other industrial processes such as nuclear electricity generation.  And finally, up one more level, we find papers that consider integrated logistical systems for ammonia energy at continental and inter-continental scales.

We can see a similar progression from micro to macro on the use side of the equation.  Here, we start with papers that address point technologies including alternative fuel species and decomposition catalysts.  At the next level we find papers on devices that convert chemical energy into kinetic or electrical energy, including fuel cells, internal combustion engines, and gas turbines.  At the next level we find papers that address the use cases for these devices, including stationary applications and road-, rail-, and ocean-based mobile applications, as well as fuel management systems, such as crackers, that can support these applications. And finally we find papers on practical demonstrations that integrate production and use.

The Topical Conference will be held in room 101F/G at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Additional announcements regarding keynote speakers, program extensions, and registration procedures specific to the Topical Conference are expected in the near future.


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