Article

Ammonia for energy storage: economic and technical analysis

Developers around the world are looking at using ammonia as a form of energy storage, essentially turning an ammonia storage tank into a very large chemical battery. In the UK, Siemens is building an "all electric ammonia synthesis and energy storage system." In the Netherlands, Nuon is studying the feasibility of using Power-to-Ammonia "to convert high amounts of excess renewable power into ammonia, store it and burn it when renewable power supply is insufficient." While results from Siemens could be available in 2018, it might be 2021 before we see results from Nuon, whose "demonstration facility is planned to be completed in five years." But, while we wait for these real-world industrial data, the academic literature has just been updated with a significant new study on the design and performance of a grid-scale ammonia energy storage system.

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International R&D on sustainable ammonia synthesis technologies

Over the last few weeks, I've written extensively about sustainable ammonia synthesis projects funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). While these projects are important, the US has no monopoly on technology development. Indeed, given the current uncertainty regarding energy policy under the Trump administration, the US may be at risk of stepping away from its assumed role as an industry leader in this area. This article introduces seven international projects, representing research coming out of eight countries spread across four continents. These projects span the breadth of next-generation ammonia synthesis research, from nanotechnology and electrocatalysis to plasmas and ionic liquids.

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Hydrogen Council – new global initiative launched at Davos

This week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the leaders of 13 global companies, representing more than EUR 1 trillion in annual revenues, announced the launch of the Hydrogen Council. This new global initiative is important for obvious reasons: it presents a compelling "united vision and long-term ambition" for hydrogen, it promises global engagement with "key stakeholders such as policy makers, business and hydrogen players, international agencies and civil society," and it pledges financial commitments to RD&D totaling EUR 10 billion over the next five years. It is important for a subtler reason too: it is the first hydrogen industry promotion I've seen that includes ammonia. It includes ammonia both implicitly, encompassing "hydrogen and its compounds," and explicitly, listing ammonia as a "renewable fuel" in its own right.

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Australian solar-ammonia exports to Germany

I recently wrote about a vast future market for merchant ammonia: transporting carbon-free energy from Australia's deserts to Japan's electricity grid. Now, however, it is clear that Japan could face international competition for Australia's solar-ammonia resources. Jeff Connolly, CEO of Siemens Pacific, wrote last month about his ambitions for ammonia as an energy export commodity.

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Siemens – Green Ammonia

In April 2016, Siemens AG announced that it will construct a plant at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford to demonstrate the production of ammonia in an electrochemical reactor. The technology is seen as a facilitator of the use of ammonia synthesis as a method for storing renewably generated electricity. It involves lower pressures and temperatures than conventional synthesis with the Haber Bosch process. The project will test two different electrolyte chemistries using its 30 kilowatt electrochemical reactor.

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Study on Reduced Chemical Mechanisms of Ammonia / Methane Combustion under Gas Turbine Conditions

On September 1st, academic journal Energy & Fuels published a new paper that features research coming out of the UK's Cardiff University and Ireland's University of Limerick. This study demonstrates a "reduced mechanism" for simulating the "robust numerical analyses with detailed chemistry" necessary for the "industrial implementation" of ammonia in gas turbine combustion for "future power generation." Here's the abstract: