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Green Ammonia Consortium: Bright Prospects in Japan for Ammonia as an Energy Carrier

In the last 12 months ... In July 2017, 19 companies and three research institutions came together to form the Green Ammonia Consortium. Before this development, it was unclear whether ammonia would find a significant role in Japan’s hydrogen economy. In the wake of this announcement, however, ammonia seems to have claimed the leading position in the race among potential energy carriers.

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Bio-Ammonia for fertilizer or fuel (a tale of two bacteria)

Today, we saw probably the single most important announcement in the five years that I've been tracking sustainable ammonia production technologies. Global ag-input giant Bayer and MIT-spin off Ginkgo Bioworks ("we design custom microbes") announced a USD $100 million investment to engineer nitrogen-fixing bacteria into seed coatings, potentially displacing ammonia from its fertilizer market. On the other side of the world, in the Philippines, researchers are developing another use for another bacteria: industrial-scale algal ammonia synthesis. This would allow ammonia to become a carbon-free biofuel, creating a new and much, much, much bigger market for ammonia: no longer fertilizer but energy.

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Optimizing technology pathways for Ammonia Fuel: production, transportation, and use

A paper has just been published by researchers in The Philippines who set out to determine the most environmentally benign way to produce, transport, and use ammonia as a fuel for vehicles. This new work provides a detailed life cycle analysis of a broad range of ammonia technologies, evaluating both carbon and nitrogen footprints of each, and identifying the optimal "well-to-wheel" pathway. Their results support the idea that using ammonia for energy presents a safe and sustainable way to bring about the hydrogen economy.

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Next-generation ammonia tech: biohybrid nanoparticles

Sustainable ammonia can be produced today: doing so would use electrolyzers to make hydrogen to feed the traditional Haber-Bosch process. In a very few years, new technologies will skip this hydrogen production phase altogether and make ammonia directly from renewable power in an electrochemical cell. Further down the pipeline, next generation technologies will mimic nature, specifically the nitrogenase enzyme, which produces ammonia naturally. One of these next generation technologies is currently producing impressive results at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

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Sustainable ammonia synthesis: SUNCAT’s lithium-cycling strategy

New research coming out of Stanford University suggests a fascinating new direction for electrochemical ammonia synthesis technology development. The US-Danish team of scientists at SUNCAT, tasked with finding new catalysts for electrochemical ammonia production, saw that 'selectivity' posed a tremendous challenge - in other words, most of the energy used by renewable ammonia production systems went into making hydrogen instead of making ammonia. The new SUNCAT solution does not overcome this selectivity challenge. It doesn't even try. Instead, these researchers have avoided the problem completely.

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The Ammonia Economy at the ACS National Meeting

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has published the program for its 2017 National Meeting, which takes place next month in Washington DC and includes a session dedicated to the "Ammonia Economy." The first day of the week-long meeting, Sunday August 20th, will feature a full morning of technical papers from the US, UK, and Japan, covering ammonia energy topics across three general areas: producing hydrogen from ammonia, developing new catalysts for ammonia synthesis and oxidation, and storing ammonia in solid chemical form.

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Report from the European Conference: Ammonia-Fueled Gas Turbines

The ammonia-fueled gas turbine (A-GT) seems destined to become one of the key technologies in the sustainable energy economy of the future.  Siemens AG, for one, features the A-GT in its vision for “Green Ammonia for Energy Storage and Beyond” and the demonstration system that the company is building at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the U.K.  Last month Ian Wilkinson, Siemens’ Programme Manager for the demonstration project, spoke about the project’s progress at the 1st European Power to Ammonia® Conference in Rotterdam in The Netherlands.  Although he devoted a slide to the A-GT, the detailed perspective came from another presentation at the conference.  This one was delivered by Dr. Agustin Valera-Medina, a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University, one of Siemens’ main green ammonia collaborators.

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Bunker Ammonia: momentum toward a “sus­tainable and future-proof” maritime fuel

The maritime industry is beginning to show significant interest in using ammonia as a "bunker fuel," a sustainable alternative to the highly polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) currently used in ships across the world. In recent months, a firm of naval architects and a new maritime think tank have both been evaluating ammonia as a fuel. This includes a road map for future research, and collaborations for a demonstration project that will allow them to design and build a freight ship "Powered by NH3."