Sunborne Systems is a green fuel technology company founded by Reaction Engines, the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Kiko Ventures. The Oxfordshire-based company successfully demonstrated its ammonia cracking reactor’s ability to produce a fuel blend capable of powering a 56kW engine.
Combining Reaction Engines’ thermal management and heat exchanger technology with STFC’s cracking catalysts, Sunborne’s reactor transforms liquid ammonia into a blend of hydrogen, nitrogen, and “uncracked” ammonia. The reactor can be retrofitted to existing fossil fuel-powered systems and energy generators, providing a new combustion fuel input.
The test programme, performed at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, showed that the reactor has high thermal efficiency and potential to be scaled into higher energy output internal combustion engine systems and other industrial power applications.
We are delighted that our test results have exceeded our expectations and showcased the significant potential of our ammonia cracking technology. The potential impact of our technology is unprecedented, with significant potential to partner with major engine OEMs and bring a fuel revolution to drive the transition to net zero.
While our initial focus is on the maritime industry, which is leading decarbonisation of internal combustion engines, our technology could easily be applied to adjacent industries such as power generation and large heavy equipment, with significant potential for use with gas turbine technology in the future.Dr James Barth, co-founder and CEO of Sunborne Systems, in his organisation’s official press release, 19 October 2023
This test confirms that our technology operates at an already relevant scale with existing engine architectures. It is also a technology that asserts that we do not need to turn our backs on the existing two billion internal combustion engines, hundreds of thousands of gas turbines and gigawatts of industrial burners worldwide. With around forty million tons of existing global ammonia excess capacity, our technology can immediately help make worldwide inroads into the transition to zero-carbon emissions in the transport and power sectors.Professor Bill David, co-founder and CSO of Sunborne Systems, in his organisation’s official press release, 19 October 2023
As a next step, Sunborne plans to raise Series A funding to run a larger demonstration, targeting 1 MW by 2025.
AFC Energy also announces successful demonstration
Also based in the UK, AFC Energy announced a similarly successful demonstration of its modular ammonia cracking technology. Performed at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory, AFC’s integrated cracker and purifier produced hydrogen at 99.99% purity, with residual ammonia below the levels required for hydrogen fuel (ISO 14687:2019 standard). AFC is targeting a variety of markets for its technology: stationary power generation, maritime propulsion and heavy vehicle refueling.
Achieving the ISO grade for ammonia PPB in hydrogen from AFC Energy’s proprietary ammonia cracker is a significant milestone for the Company. Achieving the ISO standard is key for the global adoption of ammonia as a sustainable clean fuel. Modular ammonia crackers have a range of applications and with the progress we’ve made to date, not just in cracker technology, but also in the integration of purification technologies, opens the way for adoption of ammonia fuel across both combustion and fuel cell energy applications in stationary and maritime applications.Adam Bond, Chief Executive of AFC Energy in his organisation’s official press release, 23 Oct 2023