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Comparative Technoeconomic Analysis of Conventional and Absorbent-Enhanced Ammonia Synthesis

Ammonia is the second-most produced synthetic chemical and the main precursor for nitrogen-based fertilizer. In 2015, 160 million tons were produced globally, and global demand is expected to grow 1.5% annually until 2050 [1]. However, traditional ammonia production uses natural gas or coal as its hydrogen source, and as a result, is also responsible for more than 1% of global GHG emissions and 5% of global natural gas consumption [2]. Clearly, a more sustainable ammonia production scheme is needed. One such alternative is obtain hydrogen from electrolysis powered by wind- or solar-derived electricity. It has been proposed to perform this…

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Design Optimization of an Ammonia-Based Distributed Sustainable Agricultural Energy System

Small-scale, distributed production of ammonia better enables the use of renewable energy for its synthesis than the current paradigm of large-scale, centralized production. Pursuant to this idea, a small-scale Haber-Bosch process has been installed at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris, MN [1] and there is ongoing work on an absorbent-enhanced process at the University of Minnesota [2], [3]. Using renewables to make ammonia would greatly improve the sustainability of fertilizer production, which currently accounts for 1% of total global energy consumption [4]. The promise of renewable-powered, distributed ammonia production for sustainability is in fact not…

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Design Optimization of a Distributed Ammonia Generation System

Distributed ammonia generation located near farms is a promising alternative to the current practice of large-scale, centralized production. This production mode would reduce the need for transportation of ammonia over long distances currently caused by the mismatch between production and consumption locations. In addition, a small-scale ammonia synthesis process could more easily take advantage of distributed power generation based on wind or sunlight to reduce energy costs and lessen the dependence on fossil fuels. Distributed, renewables-based fertilizer production would largely insulate farmers against market uncertainty while also increasing the sustainability of the agricultural supply chain. However, a technically proven, economically…

Paper

Potential Strategies for Distributed, Small-Scale Sustainable Ammonia Production

Potential Strategies for Distributed, Small-Scale Sustainable Ammonia Production Alon McCormick*, Ed Cussler, Prodromos Daoutidis, Paul Dauenhauer, Lanny Schmidt, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; Roger Ruan, Doug Tiffany, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Steve Kelley, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Mike Reese, West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota