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REFUEL Ammonia Use-Side Funding Awards

Six of the projects designated for funding by the ARPA-E REFUEL announcement on December 15 involve technologies on the use side of the ammonia energy space. Three focus on generating hydrogen from ammonia. Two focus on fuel cells that convert ammonia to electricity. One project involves both ammonia synthesis and use.

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Grand Challenges in Sustainable Ammonia Synthesis – DOE Roundtable Report, 2016

Earlier this year, the US Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a day-long meeting "to explore the scientific challenges associated with discovering alternative, sustainable processes for ammonia production." The report that came out of this roundtable discussion presents the participants' views on "the current state-of-the-art and the potential challenges and research opportunities ... for heterogeneous catalysis and homogeneous and enzyme catalysis."

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Low-carbon ammonia synthesis: Japan’s ‘Energy Carriers’

In 2018, a pilot plant in Japan will demonstrate a new way to produce ammonia at industrial-scale, with a low carbon footprint. This is part of Japan's 'Energy Carriers' R&D initiative, which aims to develop technologies to enable the nation's transition to a carbon-free hydrogen economy. The scope of the program covers ten subjects that encompass the full "CO2-free hydrogen value chain." Three of these ten programs describe a technology pathway for making low-carbon ammonia.

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How to create a market for low-carbon ammonia: product labeling

I wrote last week about ARPA-E's "transformative" ammonia synthesis technologies, describing three technology pathways under development: low pressure Haber-Bosch, electrochemical processes, and advanced electrolysis. ARPA-E's ambitious R&D program might imply that a meaningful, commercial market for sustainable ammonia is still decades away. It represents, however, only the slow American tip of a fast-moving global iceberg. In Japan, where there's no debate about climate science, the national effort is already well underway, with three programs to develop low-carbon ammonia synthesis under the Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP), 'Energy Carriers.'

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ARPA-E’s “transformative” ammonia synthesis technologies

The US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA-E) is funding projects with a view to commercializing low- and zero-carbon ammonia synthesis technologies. Grigorii Soloveichik, ARPA-E Program Director, described the aims and challenges of his agency's initiative and introduced the technologies currently in development in his keynote presentation at the recent NH3 Fuel Conference, in September 2016.

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H2 @ Scale: US DOE’s Request for Information

The ammonia energy community has an opportunity to provide input to the United States Department of Energy (USDOE) as it defines priority areas for its new "H2 @ Scale" initiative. The USDOE posted a Request for Information (RFI) on September 9. Interested parties are invited to comment on all aspects of the H2 @ Scale concept. The deadline for comments is November 4. A link to the RFI is provided below.

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Ammonia Turbine Power Generation with Reduced NOx

A common concern with ammonia fuel is that NOx emissions will be too high to control. However, in new research from Turkey, USA, and Japan, presented at this year's NH3 Fuel Conference in September 2016, two things became clear. First, NOx emissions can be reduced to less than 10ppm by employing good engineering design and exploiting the chemical properties of ammonia, which plays a dual role as both the fuel and the emissions-cleanup agent. Second, the deployment of ammonia-fueled turbines for power generation is not only feasible, but actively being developed, with demonstration units running today and improved demonstration projects currently in development.

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US DOE: The REFUEL Project

In April 2016, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for its Renewable Energy to Fuels through Utilization of Energy-dense Liquids (REFUEL) program. The focus of the program is carbon-neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs). In the DOE’s formulation, CNLFs are to be produced “from air and water using electrical or thermal energy from renewable sources.”

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Japan’s Fourth Strategic Energy Plan

The Cabinet of the Government of Japan adopted the country’s Fourth Strategic Energy Plan in April 2014. The Plan includes a Strategy for Hydrogen & Fuel Cells which is being executed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The accompanying H2/FC Road Map includes an investigation of three materials that can carry the energy embodied in molecular hydrogen: liquid hydrogen, organic hydrides such as methylcyclohexane, and ammonia.