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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.”

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Japan Advances SOFCs for the Built Environment

A steady stream of Japanese news reports over the last several months attest to the country’s progress in deploying fuel cells in the built environment. Dubbed “Ene-Farms,” the appliances function as micro-scale combined heat and power units, providing electricity as well as heat for domestic applications. Most of the Ene-Farms deployed so far feature proton-exchange membrane (PEM) technology (which requires high-purity hydrogen). However, two recent developments show that solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology (well suited for ammonia) could play a role, maybe even a large role, in Japan's Hydrogen Society.

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ARPA-E Issues RFI for Next-Gen Ammonia System Integration

This week the United States Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) issued a Request for Information under the title “Next Generation Ammonia System Integration Project.” This is a strong signal that ARPA-E intends to see the ammonia energy technologies in its portfolio through to commercial fruition.

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Gigastack Phase 2 Receives Funding in the UK

Earlier this week the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that a group led by ITM Power has been awarded GBP 7.5 million (USD $9.7 million) for the second phase of a renewable hydrogen project dubbed “Gigastack.” According to the BEIS announcement, “Gigastack will demonstrate the delivery of bulk, low-cost and zero-carbon hydrogen through ITM Power’s gigawatt scale polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers . . .” with the goal of “dramatically reduc[ing] the cost of electrolytic hydrogen.” The hydrogen produced will be used for petroleum refining, although the project partners have their eyes on opportunities that go well beyond desulfurization of oil.

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USDoE Issues H2@Scale Funding Opportunity Announcement

Last month the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued a USD$64 million funding opportunity announcement (FOA) on behalf of the H2@Scale program. H2@Scale was launched in 2016 by representatives of several U.S. national laboratories with the goal of moving hydrogen energy technologies toward practical implementation. It is certainly one of the United States’ main vehicles for advancing the hydrogen economy. Given this, the program’s investments will do much to determine whether the U.S. is a leader or follower in ammonia energy. In June 2017, Ammonia Energy reported that “ammonia energy had started to move from the extreme periphery of the H2@Scale conceptual map toward its more trafficked precincts.” The EERE FOA shows that while progress is being made, the journey is not yet complete.

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Korean Register Sees Ammonia as Preferred Alternative Maritime Fuel

Last week the classification society Korean Register of Shipping (KR) released Forecasting the Alternative Marine Fuel: Ammonia, a “technical document on the characteristics and the current status of ammonia as ship fuel.” One hesitates to take the title too literally, but the report really does forecast that ammonia will be the alternative marine fuel. Over the last year, a number of maritime transport stakeholders – engine producers, government agencies, other classification societies – have identified ammonia as a promising means of industry decarbonization. But in joining the group, KR makes a notably explicit and complete case in ammonia’s favor.

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Australian Company Advances Low-Carbon Hydrogen from Methane

Hazer Group, an Australian company with technology in development for the production of low-carbon hydrogen, had a busy 2019. In April the company announced that it had received its first Australian patent. In September, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the approval of “up to [AUD]$9.41 million in funding to Hazer … for the construction and operation of a groundbreaking hydrogen production facility in Munster, Western Australia.” In December Hazer announced that it was negotiating an agreement with industrial gas distributor BOC related to its Munster project. Last week the company announced that it had secured up to AUD$250,000 in grant funding from the Government of Western Australia for “a feasibility study on the creation of a renewable hydrogen transport hub." in the City of Mandurah.