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Author: Stephen Crolius

The Evolving Context of Ammonia-Coal Co-Firing

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 neat-term global relevance. 

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An Open Letter to the International Energy Agency

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.   

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Ammonia Figures Prominently in IEA Hydrogen Report

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.

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IEA Releases Forward-Looking Hydrogen Report

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.

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New Coalition Plans to Build Offshore Green Fueling Hubs

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.”

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AFC Energy Completes Ammonia-to-Power Trials

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.”

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Study Models NH3 Economics from Variable Energy Resources

Last week IEA Consultant Julien Armijo and IEA Senior Analyst Cédric Philibert submitted their study Flexible Production of Green Hydrogen and Ammonia from Variable Solar and Wind Energy:  Case Study of Chile and Argentina to the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy and concurrently posted it on ResearchGate.  The study addresses one of the key questions of the energy transition: what are the economics of producing hydrogen, or a hydrogen carrier such as ammonia, at sites with excellent renewable energy resources?  The answer, framed in terms of the cost-competitiveness in local markets of green ammonia vs. conventionally produced brown ammonia, casts an encouraging light on the eventual prospects for international trade in green ammonia as an energy commodity.

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Advances Reported for MCH and LH2

Two recent announcements show that the race is still very much on among the energy carriers that until recently were a focus of the Japanese Cabinet Office’s Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP).  During its five-year career, the SIP Energy Carriers initiative promoted the development of liquid hydrogen (LH2), liquid organic hydrides (LOH), and ammonia as technologies that could animate a hydrogen supply chain spanning continents and oceans.  The announcements regarding LH2 and methyl cyclohexane (MCH -- the main Energy Carriers focus in the LOH area) show that the conclusion of the Energy Carriers work at the end March does not mean the conclusion of work on these two rivals to ammonia energy.

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Ammonia Covered in Forbes.com Power-to-X Review

Last week, Forbes.com published Power-To-X In The German Experience: Another In The List Of Growing Energy Transition Strategies.  The article in effect nominates ammonia as a singularly promising up-and-comer in the field of the alternative energy vectors.  Such an endorsement is heartening, but the article is notable as much for who is delivering the message – and the fact of its delivery under the Forbes masthead – as for what the message is.

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NH3 vs. MCH: Energy Efficiency of Hydrogen Carriers Compared

Volume 174 of the journal Energy, published on May 1, 2019, includes a paper by Shin’ya Obara, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Kitami Institute of Technology in Japan, that should be of interest to hydrogen advocates everywhere.  The paper, "Energy and exergy flows of a hydrogen supply chain with truck transportation of ammonia or methyl cyclohexane," concludes that a hydrogen supply chain based on ammonia has better energy efficiency than one based on methyl cyclohexane (MCH).

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