Japanese capital goods manufacturer IHI Corporation announced last month that it has started construction of a 1,000 square-meter hydrogen research facility in Fukushima Prefecture. The facility will be an addition to IHI’s Green Energy Center in Soma City which was launched in 2018. One of the Center’s original focuses is the production steps of the green hydrogen supply chain using solar electricity to power developmental electrolyzers. The new facility will focus on hydrogen carriers, including ammonia and methane (via “methanation” of carbon dioxide), that can be used in the logistics steps of the supply chain.
The Center for Catalytic Science and Technology (CCST) at the University of Delaware has made new strides in the development of a direct ammonia fuel cell (DAFC) suitable for use in transportation applications. The progress is reported in “An Efficient Direct Ammonia Fuel Cell for Affordable Carbon-Neutral Transportation,” a paper published last month by Yun Zhao and six coauthors in the journal Joule. The paper gives an impressive account of CCST’s technical advances; and it makes a distinctly compelling case for the relevance of CCST’s work on DAFCs. In the latter regard, the authors find that ammonia has the “lowest source-to-tank energy cost by a significant margin” relative to other fuels that can be derived from renewably generated electricity. It is in society’s interest, they strongly imply, to give DAFC technology a chance to compete with hydrogen-based fuel cells in automotive applications.
In mid-June the Dutch naval architecture firm C-Job released "Safe and effective application of ammonia as a marine fuel," a thesis written by the firm’s Lead Naval Architect Niels de Vries for the Marine Technology Master of Science program at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. While the thesis delivers an extensive assessment of ammonia's potential effectiveness as a marine fuel, it breaks new ground in its consideration of ammonia's safety in this context.
On June 18, Japan, the United States, and the European Union released a joint statement on “future cooperation in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.” Represented, respectively, by the Ministry of Energy, Trade, and Industry (METI), the Department of Energy (DoE), and the Directorate-General for Energy (ENER), the jurisdictions pledged “to accelerate the development of sustainable hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the world.” A central point of agreement in the statement is “the importance of reducing the cost of hydrogen.”
Co-firing ammonia in a coal-fueled boiler, a concept under active development in Japan, received positive notice in the International Energy Agency’s recently published report, The Future of Hydrogen. So far serious scrutiny of the co-firing concept is limited to Japan. In the fullness of time, the demand side of the concept may take root in other countries. The supply side, however, could have near-term global relevance.
To the Authors of The Future of Hydrogen:
First I would like to thank you for an excellent report. I have devoted two Ammonia Energy posts to The Future of Hydrogen. If you read them, you will see that my appraisal is overwhelmingly positive. But I am writing this letter because I take issue with your characterization of ammonia's hazard profile. I hereby submit that your discussion in this regard is inaccurate and unhelpful.
Two weeks ago the International Energy Agency released The Future of Hydrogen, a 203-page report that “provides an extensive and independent assessment of hydrogen that lays out where things stand now; the ways in which hydrogen can help to achieve a clean, secure and affordable energy future; and how we can go about realising its potential.” In this, the second part of a two-part article, the report's extensive treatment of ammonia is considered.
Last week the International Energy Agency released The Future of Hydrogen, a 203-page report that “provides an extensive and independent assessment of hydrogen that lays out where things stand now; the ways in which hydrogen can help to achieve a clean, secure and affordable energy future; and how we can go about realising its potential.” In this, the first part of a two-part article, the report's overall strengths are considered. The second part will focus on the report's discussion of ammonia as a contributor to the emerging hydrogen economy.
Last week Wärtsilä, the Finnish engine and energy equipment manufacturer, unveiled a concept for producing and distributing low-carbon maritime fuels from purpose-built facilities in the waters off northern Europe. Dubbed Zero Emission Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS), the initiative is intended to help meet the International Maritime Organization’s target of halving the shipping sector's carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. And although Wärtsilä’s press release on June 3 mentions only “clean fuels,” the headline used by logistics-sector publisher Freight Week for their June 5 story is “Offshore fuel hubs to supply green ammonia for zero-emission future.”
AFC Energy PLC, the British fuel cell company, announced on May 20 the successful conclusion of “ammonia to power (‘A2P’) fuel cell generator trials.” The result is “proof of concept” for a system consisting of an "off the shelf" ammonia cracker and a proprietary alkaline fuel cell that can readily utilize hydrogen with residual quantities of uncracked ammonia. The achievement positions AFC “to conclude work on the business case and engineering of an integrated, scalable ammonia fuelled clean power generator.”