Optimizing Absorptive Separation for Intensification of Ammonia Production

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Abstract

High pressure requirements of Haber-Bosch process imposes substantial operating (e.g., compression) and capital (compressor cost, advanced costly alloys, thick reactor casing, etc.) expenses in the ammonia production. Cost considerations force ammonia producers to take advantage of the economy of scale to drive down the manufacture cost, while small and energy-efficient processes that can be powered with off-grid renewable energy are required for ammonia-mediated hydrogen economy. Small-scale reaction-absorption process is proposed to be a viable technology to reduce the operating pressure requirements of Haber-Bosch process.1–4

Here, we present an overview of our efforts to further intensify ammonia production via reaction-absorption process. Our target is to further improve absorbents, design catalysts that can operate at lower temperature, and optimize reaction-absorption operating conditions for lower pressure operations. Results indicate that lower pressure (P<10 bar) ammonia production is viable with optimizing operating absorptive separation. Better absorbents with the right chemistry and geometry, as well as optimized absorber conditions are key to achieve further improvements in production rates at lower pressure. This findings provide a more complete understanding of the proposed reaction-absorption process and proposes a path for further intensification of the ammonia production.

(1) Malmali, M.; Wei, Y.; McCormick, A.; Cussler, E. L. Ammonia Synthesis at Reduced Pressure via Reactive Separation. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2016, 55 (33).

(2) Reese, M.; Marquart, C.; Malmali, M.; Wagner, K.; Buchanan, E.; McCormick, A.; Cussler, E. L. Performance of a Small-Scale Haber Process. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2016, 55 (13).

(3) Malmali, M.; Reese, M.; McCormick, A. V.; Cussler, E. L. Converting Wind Energy to Ammonia at Lower Pressure. ACS Sustain. Chem. Eng. 2018, 6 (1).

(4) Malmali, M.; Le, G.; Hendrickson, J.; Prince, J.; McCormick, A. V.; Cussler, E. L. Better Absorbents for Ammonia Separation. ACS Sustain. Chem. Eng. 2018, 6 (5).

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