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Author: Trevor Brown

Ammonia-fed microbial fuel cells: power from sweat

NEWS BRIEF: The National Science Foundation has awarded $452,000 to researchers at Binghamton University to develop a technology that can generate power from sweat, fueling "one of the ultimate forms of next-generation electronics." The project aims to harness ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, using microbial fuel cells, to power wearable electronics.

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Feeding Life 2030: the vision of Fertilizers Europe

Fertilizers Europe published an important report in late 2018 that examines key drivers for the fertilizer industry and describes the "likely developments expected between now and 2030." These developments include producing "perhaps 10%" of European ammonia from renewable electricity by using electrolyzers to generate renewable hydrogen feedstock. This would require scaling up green ammonia production capacity to more than a million tons per year, within ten years.

The report, Feeding Life 2030, also describes the policy framework required "to sustain the Vision." In this vision, ammonia sits at "the crossroads of nutrition and energy" and is recognized as "the ‘missing link’ in the coming energy transformation."

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ARPA-E solicits technologies for nitrogen extraction from seawater using seaweed

NEWS BRIEF: On Monday, May 13, the US Department of Energy ARPA-E will close its request for information (RFI) regarding Quantification of Effectiveness of Nutrient Bioextraction by Seaweed.

By using environmental remediation (nitrogen removal) as a mechanism for ammonia production (nitrogen recycling), this novel research area could connect together two phases of industry: production and end-of-life management. Rather than saying that this addresses both ends of a value chain, it might be more appropriate to say that this holds promise for the circular economy of ammonia energy.

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If green ammonia, whence urea? Stamicarbon’s Innovation Agenda

One of the most interesting unanswered questions surrounding green ammonia is this: what about urea?

Last month, a major announcement by Stamicarbon ("the world market leader in design, licensing and development of urea plants") implies an answer: in the long-term context of climate change, urea as a fertilizer may simply need to be phased out.

Stamicarbon announced its new Innovation Agenda at the company's "Future Day" event in Utrecht in April. Its Innovation Agenda covers three areas: speciality fertilizers, digitalization, and "Renewable production of fertilizer (using wind or solar energy to produce fertilizer)."

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ARPA-E request for information: Pre‐pilot and pilot projects to scale, mature, and advance technologies

ANNOUNCEMENT: The US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) has published a Request For Information (RFI) focused on supporting scale-up demonstrations of ARPA-E technologies. Unlike normal ARPA-E funding agreements, which typically provide 5%-20% of the financing for bench-scale projects within laboratories, this RFI is geared towards industrial pilot projects, for which ARPA-E would provide "at least 50% cost share."

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Literature review: Electrochemical Ammonia Synthesis and Ammonia Fuel Cells

The journal Advanced Materials recently published an article that reviews electrochemical ammonia technologies for both synthesis and power generation. In addition to presenting a range of technologies under development, the authors, based at the University of Delaware, present "perspectives in the technical challenges and possible remedies."

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Ammonia exports key to renewable energy movement in Australian elections

NEWS BRIEF: Ammonia energy has entered the federal election campaign discourse in Australia. This is thanks to a grassroots movement that calls itself Fair Dinkum Power, which "aims to make climate change a battleground issue in the election campaign," and whose manifesto calls for using ammonia as a hydrogen carrier to export clean energy.

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Call for Abstracts: Ammonia Energy Conference 2019 submission deadline

ANNOUNCEMENT: Call for Abstracts closes next week - Deadline April 12!

Our 16th annual Ammonia Energy Conference is tentatively scheduled to take place on November 13-14, 2019, as part of the AIChE Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. If you wish to make a presentation, please submit your abstract via the AIChE website, making sure to select the Topical Conference: Ammonia Energy.

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HIAlba-IDEA: think tank launches in Scotland to deploy CSIRO technology, become green energy exporter

NEWS BRIEF: A new policy think tank was launched last month that will focus on "why and how Scotland could benefit from being an early adopter of renewable hydrogen." Its "core starting point" is CSIRO's hydrogen-purification membrane, which enables ammonia to be used and exported as an efficient hydrogen carrier; for this use, green ammonia would be produced from offshore wind. According to the founders, this could lead to "Scotland becoming one of the largest global energy exporters in the world ... it could be the country’s main source of energy and create a knowledge economy."

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Green ammonia: Haldor Topsoe’s solid oxide electrolyzer

Haldor Topsoe has greatly improved the near-term prospects for green ammonia by announcing a demonstration of its next-generation ammonia synthesis plant. This new technology uses a solid oxide electrolysis cell to make synthesis gas (hydrogen and nitrogen), which feeds Haldor Topsoe's existing technology: the Haber-Bosch plant. The product is ammonia, made from air, water, and renewable electricity.

The "SOC4NH3" project was recently awarded funds from the Danish Energy Agency, allowing Haldor Topsoe to demonstrate the system with its academic partners, and to deliver a feasibility study for a small industrial-scale green ammonia pilot plant, which it hopes to build by 2025. There are two dimensions to this technology that make it so important: its credibility and its efficiency.

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