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Renewable Fertilizers in Europe

In our most recent episode of Ammonia Project Features, we explored the potential for renewable fertilizers in Europe. Birgitte Holder (Yara) explained that renewable hydrogen is low-hanging fruit for decarbonizing food production, but further emissions reduction will come from working across the full value chain: including on the farm itself. Yara’s agreement with agricultural cooperative Lantmannen is part of this wider focus. From a regulatory perspective, Theo Paquet (Fertilizers Europe) showed us there are many regulatory levers to pull to achieve decarbonization goals in the fertilizer sector, and that national food & energy security concerns may accelerate regulatory change in the coming years.

Article

The social license to operate low and zero-carbon ammonia energy projects

Our latest Ammonia Project Features webinar focused on the social license to operate for low and zero-carbon ammonia energy projects. Sam Bartlett from the Green Hydrogen Organisation explained the details of his organisation’s new “Green Hydrogen Standard”, which not only incorporates emissions, but also the environmental, social and governance consequences of a production project. Jonathan Cocker from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP then took us through the key challenges for obtaining social license, and what we can learn from other industries and case studies already in progress around the world.

Article

Nuclear-powered ammonia production

The potential for nuclear-powered ammonia production is developing fast. Two seperate industrial consortia (Copenhagen Atomics, Alfa Larval & Topsoe, and KBR & Terrestrial Energy) have formed to develop thorium-fueled reactors, and hydrogen & ammonia production is a key part of their plans. Given nuclear electricity dominates France’s energy mix, a grid-connected electrolyser project at Borealis’ fertiliser production plant in Ottmarsheim, France will be one of the first examples of commercial-scale, nuclear-powered ammonia production. And, while capital costs & lead times remain significant, mass production of new technologies and research into flexible power production capabilities are emerging as key to unlocking nuclear-powered ammonia production.

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Decarbonizing fossil-based ammonia production in North America

Our latest Ammonia Project Features webinar focused on various pathways for decarbonizing fossil-based ammonia production in North America. Blake Adair from Nutrien took us on a tour of some of his organisation’s existing low-carbon ammonia production facilities. He also explained how the technology solutions already exist to drive down emissions from hydrogen production, and improve rates of carbon capture. Dr. Amgad Elgowainy from Argonne National Laboratories then presented his team’s analysis of carbon dioxide mitigation costs for ammonia production, noting that current federal incentives for CCS projects already have a material impact on project costs. With incentives in place and mature technology available, we will soon see more low-carbon ammonia production projects emerge in North America.

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Unlocking CCS ammonia potential in Europe

The first episode of our new series Ammonia Project Features revealed interesting details about current and future low-carbon ammonia projects in Europe. Bjørgulf Eidesen (Horisont Energi) explained that the Barents Blue project aims to set an ambitious new standard for low-carbon ammonia production, particularly by demonstrating transparency on its CO2 footprint & other sustainability indicators. But, although Europe’s technical capacity for carbon storage is far greater than what will be required, Toby Lockwood (Clean Air Task Force) reminded us that progress is slow, with only half the capacity required by 2030 currently developed. Supporting policy, tight regulations and funding support is all required from a government level.

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DECHEMA and Fertilizers Europe: decarbonizing ammonia production up to 2030

DECHEMA and Fertilizers Europe recently released a new report detailing how & where the European fertilizer industry can decarbonize leading up to 2030. Technology options for CO2-emission reduction of hydrogen feedstock in ammonia production explores decarbonization pathways including energy efficiency improvements, carbon capture & sequestration, renewable hydrogen feedstock and grid-based electrolysis. It proposes a detailed roadmap towards 19% emissions reduction from the EU fertilizer industry by 2030, and – looking ahead to 2050 – forecasts the almost complete decarbonization of the industry, via zero-carbon electricity generation in the EU and the growth of renewable hydrogen production. With the right policy & regulatory levers in place, Fertilizers Europe believes there is no reason the transition cannot happen faster.

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IEA publishes Ammonia Technology Roadmap

Last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published the Ammonia Technology Roadmap, in which the pathway to nitrogen fertilizer production up to 2050 was highlighted. Various scenarios were introduced, ranging from a baseline scenario to a sustainable development scenario (SDS) and a net zero emissions (NZE) by 2050 scenario. Demand, decarbonization costs and technology pathways were all explored in detail.

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Panel discussion on next-generation ammonia synthesis

This year’s Ammonia Energy Conference included a panel discussion on next-generation ammonia synthesis, moderated by Sarb Giddey (CSIRO, Australia), and featuring panelists Doug MacFarlane (Monash University, Australia), Karthish Manthiram (MIT, United States), and Michael Stoukides (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece). The panel discussed the direct fixation of nitrogen in the form of ammonia from water and air in a single electrochemical device, which is considered the “holy grail” of ammonia synthesis. During the panel, the participants gave their perspectives on the state of the art, and the obstacles and opportunities for progress.

Article

Electrified Methane Reforming Could Reduce Ammonia’s CO2 Footprint

A May 2019 paper published in Science reports on a technological advance that may have significant implications for ammonia production. The paper, Electrified methane reforming: A compact approach to greener industrial hydrogen production, presents a method for providing the heat required for steam methane reforming from renewable electricity instead of natural gas. The carbon intensity of ammonia production could thereby be reduced by about 30%. And, last month, Haldor Topsøe announced that it plans to build a demonstration plant in Denmark that will produce “CO2-neutral methanol from biogas using eSMR technology.” The plant is expected to be “fully operational in the beginning of 2022.”

Paper

Power-to-Ammonia-to-Power (P2A2P) for Local Electricity Storage in 2025

A carbon-free, circular economy is required to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A commonly named alternative to the carbon-based economy is the hydrogen economy. However, storing and transporting hydrogen is difficult. Therefore, the ammonia economy is proposed. Ammonia (NH3) is a carbon-free hydrogen carrier, which can mediate the hydrogen economy. Especially for long-term storage (above 1 day), ammonia is more economically stored than hydrogen. Transportation costs are greatly reduced by adopting a decentralized energy economy. Furthermore, political-economic factors influence energy prices less in a decentralized energy economy. With small-scale ammonia production gaining momentum, business models for the decentralized ammonia economy are…