Article

Renewable ammonia energy, harvesting large-scale wind

A chemicals technology firm in Belgium recently launched its vision for using green ammonia for "energy harvesting." The Dualtower is a new kind of wind turbine, under development by Arranged BVBA, that will use wind power to produce and also store hydrogen and nitrogen. These gases are "harvested" as ammonia, which becomes the energy carrier that allows large-scale renewable energy to be transported economically from remote locations with excellent renewable resources to centers of power consumption. Arranged's Dualtower is ambitious and, perhaps, futuristic but it illustrates three powerful concepts. First, the vast untapped scalability of renewable power. Second, the benefits of using ammonia as an energy carrier, to improve the economics of large-scale, long-distance energy transportation relative to every other low-carbon technology. The third concept is simply that every idea has its time, and now may be the time for ammonia energy. What was once futuristic, now just makes sense.

Article

Future Ammonia Technologies: Electrochemical (part 1)

Last month's NH3 Energy+ conference featured presentations on a great range of novel ammonia synthesis technologies, including improvements to Haber-Bosch, and plasmas, membranes, and redox cycles. But, in a mark of a conference approaching maturity, members of the audience had at least as much to contribute as the presenters. This was the case for electrochemical synthesis technologies: while the presentations included updates from an influential industry-academia-government collaboration, led by Nel Hydrogen's US subsidiary, the audience members represented, among others, the new electrochemical ammonia synthesis research lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a team from Monash University in Australia. The very next week, Monash published its latest results, reporting an electrochemical process that synthesized ammonia with 60% faradaic efficiency, an unprecedented rate of current conversion at ambient pressure and temperature.

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

The Future of Ammonia: Improvement of Haber-Bosch … or Electrochemical Synthesis?

During our NH3 Energy+ Topical Conference, hosted within AIChE's Annual Meeting earlier this month, an entire day of presentations was devoted to new technologies to make industrial ammonia production more sustainable. One speaker perfectly articulated the broad investment drivers, technology trends, and recent R&D achievements in this area: the US Department of Energy's ARPA-E Program Director, Grigorii Soloveichik, who posed this question regarding the future of ammonia production: "Improvement of Haber-Bosch Process or Electrochemical Synthesis?"

Paper

Process Synthesis and Global Optimization of Novel Ammonia Production Processes

Synthetic ammonia production has played a huge role in sustaining population growth by providing the nitrogen in fertilizers that are widely used in modern agriculture. Even long after it was first commercially developed by Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch in the 1930s, the Haber-Bosch process remains the basis for industrial ammonia production today. Through reducing energy requirements by half in the last 50 years, centralized industrial plants have kept their technical and economic advantage over other modes of operation. However, the centralized production also comes with high transportation costs, since plant capacities usually exceed local ammonia consumption [1]. This and…

Paper

Exploring Peptide-Bound Catalysts for Electrochemical Ammonia Generation

Today, most ammonia (NH3) manufacturing occurs via the Haber-Bosch process. This process consumes hydrogen from fossil fuels, and as a result NH3 contributes the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions out of the top 18 large-volume chemicals made globally. Because the process is high temperature (400°–500°C) and pressure (150–300 atm) with a low (15%) single-pass conversion efficiency, the plants have to be very large to be economical. This means that ammonia is shipped from centralized locations, further increasing greenhouse gas emissions because of the fuel consumed in transportation. Additionally, their large size makes it difficult to integrate with renewable sources…

Paper

Future of Ammonia Production: Improvement of Haber-Bosch Process or Electrochemical Synthesis?

Ammonia, the second most produced chemical in the world (176 million tons in 2014), is manufactured at large plants (1,000 – 1,500 t/day) using Haber-Bosch process developed more than hundred years ago. A simple reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen (produced by steam methane reforming or coal gasification) consumes about 2% of world energy, in part due to the use of high pressure and temperature. With the global transition from fossil fuels to intermittent renewable energy sources there is a need for long term storage and long range transmission of energy, for which ammonia is perfect fit. To make it practical,…

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.

Paper

Small Scale Low-Pressure Ammonia Synthesis

Ammonia is one of the most important chemical commodities in the US and will be a key component in helping the world meet the rising demand for food and energy. Ammonia is needed in distributed locations for agriculture (as fertilizer for small grain and corn production), for indirect hydrogen storage1 (transported as a liquid at moderate pressure to hydrogen stations), or as a liquid fuel2 (for internal combustion engines or solid oxide fuel cells). Recently, there has been significant effort to develop scalable technologies for conversion of intermittent energies (e.g., solar, wind) into energy dense carbon-neutral liquid fuels, and ammonia…

Paper

Potential Strategies for Distributed, Small-Scale Sustainable Ammonia Production

Potential Strategies for Distributed, Small-Scale Sustainable Ammonia Production Alon McCormick*, Ed Cussler, Prodromos Daoutidis, Paul Dauenhauer, Lanny Schmidt, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; Roger Ruan, Doug Tiffany, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Steve Kelley, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Mike Reese, West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota