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USDA to fund fertilizer production expansion

The US Department of Agriculture is looking to support small-scale, distributed ammonia & fertilizer production in the US via a new funding program. The Fertilizer Production Expansion Fund aims to help US farmers secure access to cheap, lower-emissions fertilizer, as well as shielding the agricultural industry from price shocks. New & existing projects will be funded to spur competition, with the focus on smaller players.

Article

Production technology updates: from mega-scale to distributed ammonia

Recently, KBR launched its Ammonia 10,000 technology for newbuild ammonia plants, tripling the largest available single train capacity to 10,000 metric tonnes per day. In our latest Technology Insights article, we explore the other pieces of the puzzle required for mega-scale ammonia, as well as some updates from the other end of the spectrum, with three distributed, small-scale ammonia synthesis systems under development in North America.

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Starfire Energy’s Rapid Ramp modular ammonia plant development status and trajectory

Starfire Energy has transformed from a grant-funded company to an investment-funded company. We are scaling up our Rapid Ramp ammonia production technology to provide renewable, flexible, modular ammonia fuel plants specifically designed to seamlessly integrate with naturally varying renewable power. We will provide an update on the status of our prototype modular Rapid Ramp pilot plant. We will also discuss the development path for mass produced modular plants and illustrate how they will provide the means to make affordable carbon-free NH3 fuel at a broad range of plant sizes and help drive ammonia fuel use to “fuel relevance” and onward…

Article

Small-Scale Ammonia Synthesis Technology on Track for 2021

On October 6, 2019, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun published an article that confirmed a goal set at the 2017 launch of Japanese chemical technology developer Tsubame BHB. The goal is to have Tsubame’s ammonia synthesis technology ready for licensing in 2021. According to Tsubame’s English-language Web site, its technology “makes it possible to produce ammonia even at small-scale plants” – good news for ammonia energy project developers interested in distributed production concepts.

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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…

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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…

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Arpa-E Refuel Program: Distributed Production of Ammonia and Its Conversion to Energy

Ammonia, which has high energy density in easily produced liquid form and can be converted to electric or motive power, is considered to be an almost ideal non-carbon energy vector in addition to its common use as a fertilizer. It can be manufactured anywhere using the Haber-Bosch process, effectively stored, transported and used in combustion engines and fuel cells as well as a hydrogen carrier. Transition from fossil fuels as the energy source and feedstock to intermittent renewable energy sources will require a shift from large scale Haber-Bosch plants (1,000 – 1,500 t/day) to distributed ammonia production matching electrical power…

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Optimizing Absorptive Separation for Intensification of Ammonia Production

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.…

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Technoeconomic Requirements for Sustainable Ammonia Production

Ammonia, the feedstock for all nitrogen fertilizers, is produced via the Haber-Bosch process, which is responsible for 1-2% of global carbon dioxide emissions each year. An attractive solution to this problem is to create an electrochemical ammonia synthesis process that can produce ammonia using only air, water, and renewable electricity. Researchers across the world have been working toward such a solution for the last several decades, but so far, no economically viable alternative has been created. The Haber-Bosch process is one of the largest-scale, most highly optimized chemical processes in the world; it is very difficult to find a cheaper…

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Design Optimization of an Ammonia-Based Distributed Sustainable Agricultural Energy System

Small-scale, distributed production of ammonia better enables the use of renewable energy for its synthesis than the current paradigm of large-scale, centralized production. Pursuant to this idea, a small-scale Haber-Bosch process has been installed at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris, MN [1] and there is ongoing work on an absorbent-enhanced process at the University of Minnesota [2], [3]. Using renewables to make ammonia would greatly improve the sustainability of fertilizer production, which currently accounts for 1% of total global energy consumption [4]. The promise of renewable-powered, distributed ammonia production for sustainability is in fact not…