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University of Minnesota

Paper

Comparative Technoeconomic Analysis of Conventional and Absorbent-Enhanced Ammonia Synthesis

Ammonia is the second-most produced synthetic chemical and the main precursor for nitrogen-based fertilizer. In 2015, 160 million tons were produced globally, and global demand is expected to grow 1.5% annually until 2050 [1]. However, traditional ammonia production uses natural gas or coal as its hydrogen source, and as a result, is also responsible for more than 1% of global GHG emissions and 5% of global natural gas consumption [2]. Clearly, a more sustainable ammonia production scheme is needed. One such alternative is obtain hydrogen from electrolysis powered by wind- or solar-derived electricity. It has been proposed to perform this…

Paper

Ammonia Absorbents with High Stability and High Capacity for Fast Cycling

Ammonia absorption is an alternative separation to condensation in ammonia production. Metal chloride salts selectively incorporate ammonia into their crystal lattices with remarkably high capacity. Regeneration and stability of these salts are further improved by dispersing them onto a porous silica support. Here, we discuss the optimal preparation methods of supported metal halides, as well as optimal conditions for uptake and release of ammonia. The metal halide salt particle size, support particle size, support composition and preparation methods are optimized for material stability, speed of uptake and release, and maximum ammonia capacity. An automated system was used to rapidly screen…

Article

University of Minnesota demonstrates efficient ammonia dual-fuel engine system

This month, researchers at the University of Minnesota began successful field tests of their new ammonia engine, operating a heavy-duty tractor across farmland near Morris, MN, on a dual-fuel blend of 70% diesel and 30% ammonia.

Article

NH3 Event in Rotterdam, June 6-7

This year's ammonia conference in Rotterdam, the third annual NH3 Event, begins two weeks from today. Since our guest post in March, announcing the initial roster of conference speakers, the organizers have confirmed new speakers, added more sessions, and announced further details. The NH3 Event is a two-day conference, taking place on June 6 & 7, presenting "state of the art solutions and innovations on the subject of Sustainable Ammonia." Although the conference hall is already close to capacity, a few dozen tickets remain available through the NH3 Event website.

Article

EPRI Releases Ammonia Energy Report

Last month the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released Renewable Ammonia Generation, Transport, and Utilization in the Transportation Sector, the organization’s first public treatment of ammonia energy.  The report is positioned as a communique from the cutting edge – a “Technology Insights Brief” from EPRI’s “Innovation Scouts” – and, bracingly, manages to be both brief and comprehensive.  Within its format, it does an excellent job of conveying the positive case for ammonia energy and the R&D that will allow it to reach its potential.

Article

Process Superstructures and the Production of Cost-Advantaged Ammonia

At the 2017 NH3 Energy+ Conference, graduate student Doga Demirhan reported on an ongoing investigation at the Energy Institute at Texas A&M University. The work involved evaluation of options for an ammonia production system and concluded that biomass could be an economically viable feedstock under current, real-world conditions. This is a notable outcome. Just as notable is how it was reached.

Article

Future Ammonia Technologies: Plasma, Membrane, Redox

I wrote recently about two pathways for ammonia production technology development: improvements on Haber-Bosch, or electrochemical synthesis. Last week, I covered some of these Haber-Bosch improvements; next week, I'll write about electrochemical processes. This week, I want to write about some innovations that don't fit this two-way categorization: they don't use electrochemistry and they don't build upon the Haber-Bosch process, and that might be the only thing that links them.

Article

Improvement of Haber-Bosch: Adsorption vs. Absorption

At the recent NH3 Energy+ Topical Conference, Grigorii Soloveichik described the future of ammonia synthesis technologies as a two-way choice: Improvement of Haber-Bosch or Electrochemical Synthesis. Two such Haber-Bosch improvement projects, which received ARPA-E-funding under Soloveichik's program direction, also presented papers at the conference. They each take different approaches to the same problem: how to adapt the high-pressure, high-temperature, constant-state Haber-Bosch process to small-scale, intermittent renewable power inputs. One uses adsorption, the other uses absorption, but both remove ammonia from the synthesis loop, avoiding one of Haber-Bosch's major limiting factors: separation of the product ammonia.

Article

254th ACS Meeting, Energy and Fuels Symposium “The Ammonia Economy” – Synthesis, Utilization & Nitrogen Reduction

In late August, the day before the exciting solar eclipse, the Ammonia Economy symposium was held as part of the Energy and Fuels Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Washington DC. This marks the third gathering of Ammonia related research since 2015 at the national level ACS conference. This year, in addition to the important focus on chemistries for the utilization of ammonia, the rapidly developing field of homogeneous catalysts and biological processes for nitrogen fixation was included as a major theme.

Article

Ammonia Energy at the H2@Scale Workshop

“Carbon-free ammonia needs to be a significant contributor to the H2@Scale initiative.” This was one of the “key takeaways” offered by Steve Szymanski, Director of Business Development at the hydrogen generator company Proton On-Site, during his presentation at the H2@Scale Workshop that was held on May 23-24 at the University of Houston in the U.S. By the time Szymanski left the podium, ammonia energy had moved a good distance from the periphery of the H2@Scale conceptual map toward its center.

Article

ARPA-E funding for renewable ammonia synthesis technologies

Last week, ARPA-E announced funding for eight technologies that aim to make ammonia from renewable electricity, air, and water. The technological pathways being developed include adaptations of the Haber-Bosch process - seeking improvements in catalysts and absorbents - as well as novel electrochemical processes.

Article

University of Minnesota’s Ammonia Program

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will present a Webinar on December 21 on "Distributed Ammonia Synthesis." The presenter will be Edward L. Cussler, Distinguished Institute Professor at the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department of the University of Minnesota. Distributed ammonia synthesis is one focus related to ammonia energy at the University of Minnesota - but just one. In fact, UMinn is the locus of a unique and globally significant collection of research efforts that promise to have significant impacts in the ammonia industry and the broader energy sector.

Article

NH3 Fuel Association President Presents at AIChE Annual Meeting

NH3 Fuel Association President Norm Olson presented his paper “NH3 – the Optimal Liquid Transportation Fuel” on November 9 at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The AIChE meeting, held over six days in San Francisco, provided a wide-ranging perspective on the sustainable energy landscape that ammonia energy must compete within.

Article

Displacing Diesel Fuel with Carbon-Free Anhydrous Ammonia

The team at the University of Minnesota announced last month the award of funding for a demonstration project entitled "Clean Vehicles Fueled by Hydrogen from Renewable Ammonia." This project builds on years of research and investment in renewable ammonia at University of Minnesota, most visibly the prototype wind-to-ammonia production plant operating since 2014 at West Central Research and Outreach Center. Their focus now, however, is shifting to the use of ammonia as a fuel. "The overall objective of the project is to displace up to 50% of the diesel fuel used in tractors with anhydrous ammonia produced from renewable resources."

Paper

Ammonia Production Using Wind Energy

Industry professionals and others have begun to consider the use of ammonia as a substitute for fossil energy in the fuel, fertilizer, and chemical sectors. Several factors are driving this concept; including, energy security concerns, the potential for economic development, and reducing the environmental consequences of fossil energy use. In terms of environmental concerns, it is important to determine the potential impacts of producing ammonia before a major switch to ammonia can be considered. This study examined fossil energy use and carbon emissions in the production of ammonia, using life cycle assessment (LCA) methods to analyze production at a novel…

Article

University of Minnesota demonstrates efficient ammonia dual-fuel engine system

This month, researchers at the University of Minnesota began successful field tests of their new ammonia engine, operating a heavy-duty tractor across farmland near Morris, MN, on a dual-fuel blend of 70% diesel and 30% ammonia.

Article

NH3 Event in Rotterdam, June 6-7

This year's ammonia conference in Rotterdam, the third annual NH3 Event, begins two weeks from today. Since our guest post in March, announcing the initial roster of conference speakers, the organizers have confirmed new speakers, added more sessions, and announced further details. The NH3 Event is a two-day conference, taking place on June 6 & 7, presenting "state of the art solutions and innovations on the subject of Sustainable Ammonia." Although the conference hall is already close to capacity, a few dozen tickets remain available through the NH3 Event website.

Article

EPRI Releases Ammonia Energy Report

Last month the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released Renewable Ammonia Generation, Transport, and Utilization in the Transportation Sector, the organization’s first public treatment of ammonia energy.  The report is positioned as a communique from the cutting edge – a “Technology Insights Brief” from EPRI’s “Innovation Scouts” – and, bracingly, manages to be both brief and comprehensive.  Within its format, it does an excellent job of conveying the positive case for ammonia energy and the R&D that will allow it to reach its potential.

Article

Process Superstructures and the Production of Cost-Advantaged Ammonia

At the 2017 NH3 Energy+ Conference, graduate student Doga Demirhan reported on an ongoing investigation at the Energy Institute at Texas A&M University. The work involved evaluation of options for an ammonia production system and concluded that biomass could be an economically viable feedstock under current, real-world conditions. This is a notable outcome. Just as notable is how it was reached.

Article

Future Ammonia Technologies: Plasma, Membrane, Redox

I wrote recently about two pathways for ammonia production technology development: improvements on Haber-Bosch, or electrochemical synthesis. Last week, I covered some of these Haber-Bosch improvements; next week, I'll write about electrochemical processes. This week, I want to write about some innovations that don't fit this two-way categorization: they don't use electrochemistry and they don't build upon the Haber-Bosch process, and that might be the only thing that links them.

Article

Improvement of Haber-Bosch: Adsorption vs. Absorption

At the recent NH3 Energy+ Topical Conference, Grigorii Soloveichik described the future of ammonia synthesis technologies as a two-way choice: Improvement of Haber-Bosch or Electrochemical Synthesis. Two such Haber-Bosch improvement projects, which received ARPA-E-funding under Soloveichik's program direction, also presented papers at the conference. They each take different approaches to the same problem: how to adapt the high-pressure, high-temperature, constant-state Haber-Bosch process to small-scale, intermittent renewable power inputs. One uses adsorption, the other uses absorption, but both remove ammonia from the synthesis loop, avoiding one of Haber-Bosch's major limiting factors: separation of the product ammonia.

Article

254th ACS Meeting, Energy and Fuels Symposium “The Ammonia Economy” – Synthesis, Utilization & Nitrogen Reduction

In late August, the day before the exciting solar eclipse, the Ammonia Economy symposium was held as part of the Energy and Fuels Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Washington DC. This marks the third gathering of Ammonia related research since 2015 at the national level ACS conference. This year, in addition to the important focus on chemistries for the utilization of ammonia, the rapidly developing field of homogeneous catalysts and biological processes for nitrogen fixation was included as a major theme.

Article

Ammonia Energy at the H2@Scale Workshop

“Carbon-free ammonia needs to be a significant contributor to the H2@Scale initiative.” This was one of the “key takeaways” offered by Steve Szymanski, Director of Business Development at the hydrogen generator company Proton On-Site, during his presentation at the H2@Scale Workshop that was held on May 23-24 at the University of Houston in the U.S. By the time Szymanski left the podium, ammonia energy had moved a good distance from the periphery of the H2@Scale conceptual map toward its center.

Article

ARPA-E funding for renewable ammonia synthesis technologies

Last week, ARPA-E announced funding for eight technologies that aim to make ammonia from renewable electricity, air, and water. The technological pathways being developed include adaptations of the Haber-Bosch process - seeking improvements in catalysts and absorbents - as well as novel electrochemical processes.

Article

University of Minnesota’s Ammonia Program

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) will present a Webinar on December 21 on "Distributed Ammonia Synthesis." The presenter will be Edward L. Cussler, Distinguished Institute Professor at the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department of the University of Minnesota. Distributed ammonia synthesis is one focus related to ammonia energy at the University of Minnesota - but just one. In fact, UMinn is the locus of a unique and globally significant collection of research efforts that promise to have significant impacts in the ammonia industry and the broader energy sector.

Article

NH3 Fuel Association President Presents at AIChE Annual Meeting

NH3 Fuel Association President Norm Olson presented his paper “NH3 – the Optimal Liquid Transportation Fuel” on November 9 at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The AIChE meeting, held over six days in San Francisco, provided a wide-ranging perspective on the sustainable energy landscape that ammonia energy must compete within.

Article

Displacing Diesel Fuel with Carbon-Free Anhydrous Ammonia

The team at the University of Minnesota announced last month the award of funding for a demonstration project entitled "Clean Vehicles Fueled by Hydrogen from Renewable Ammonia." This project builds on years of research and investment in renewable ammonia at University of Minnesota, most visibly the prototype wind-to-ammonia production plant operating since 2014 at West Central Research and Outreach Center. Their focus now, however, is shifting to the use of ammonia as a fuel. "The overall objective of the project is to displace up to 50% of the diesel fuel used in tractors with anhydrous ammonia produced from renewable resources."

Paper

Comparative Technoeconomic Analysis of Conventional and Absorbent-Enhanced Ammonia Synthesis

Ammonia is the second-most produced synthetic chemical and the main precursor for nitrogen-based fertilizer. In 2015, 160 million tons were produced globally, and global demand is expected to grow 1.5% annually until 2050 [1]. However, traditional ammonia production uses natural gas or coal as its hydrogen source, and as a result, is also responsible for more than 1% of global GHG emissions and 5% of global natural gas consumption [2]. Clearly, a more sustainable ammonia production scheme is needed. One such alternative is obtain hydrogen from electrolysis powered by wind- or solar-derived electricity. It has been proposed to perform this…

Paper

Ammonia Absorbents with High Stability and High Capacity for Fast Cycling

Ammonia absorption is an alternative separation to condensation in ammonia production. Metal chloride salts selectively incorporate ammonia into their crystal lattices with remarkably high capacity. Regeneration and stability of these salts are further improved by dispersing them onto a porous silica support. Here, we discuss the optimal preparation methods of supported metal halides, as well as optimal conditions for uptake and release of ammonia. The metal halide salt particle size, support particle size, support composition and preparation methods are optimized for material stability, speed of uptake and release, and maximum ammonia capacity. An automated system was used to rapidly screen…

Paper

Ammonia Production Using Wind Energy

Industry professionals and others have begun to consider the use of ammonia as a substitute for fossil energy in the fuel, fertilizer, and chemical sectors. Several factors are driving this concept; including, energy security concerns, the potential for economic development, and reducing the environmental consequences of fossil energy use. In terms of environmental concerns, it is important to determine the potential impacts of producing ammonia before a major switch to ammonia can be considered. This study examined fossil energy use and carbon emissions in the production of ammonia, using life cycle assessment (LCA) methods to analyze production at a novel…