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Cracking Ammonia: panel wrap-up from the Ammonia Energy Conference

When should we be cracking ammonia? How much should we be cracking? How could better cracking technologies open up new end uses? What are the critical challenges still to be overcome for cracking ammonia? On November 17, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Bill David from Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), as well as panel members Josh Makepeace from the University of Birmingham, Joe Beach from Starfire Energy, Gennadi Finkelshtain from GenCell Energy, Camel Makhloufi from ENGIE, and Michael Dolan from Fortescue as part of the recent Ammonia Energy Conference. All panelists agreed that cracking technology as it stands has a number of key areas to be optimised, particularly catalyst improvements and energy efficiency. But, successful demonstrations of modular, targeted cracking solutions are accelerating the conversation forward.

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Fuel Economy Standards, and the Roles of Ammonia

In the news this week, California and four automakers (BMW, Ford, Honda and VW) signed an agreement on fuel economy standards, rising 3.7% per year to about 50 MPG in 2026. This agreement, as well as previous California and Federal standards, give automakers flexibility to meet the standards with incentives and credits for new technology such as electric, hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles.

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Ammonia-to-Hydrogen System for FCEV Refuelling

Ammonia can play a significant role in fuelling the world’s growing fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) fleet through technologies which allow the decomposition of NH3, and subsequent extraction and purification of H2. CSIRO has recently demonstrated a pilot-scale ammonia-to-hydrogen system, incorporating an ammonia decomposition stage with a subsequent membrane-based hydrogen purification stage, at a rate of several kilograms of H2 per day. Through partnerships with an industrial gas producer and two FCEV manufacturers, the resulting H2 has been compressed and dispensed into FCEVs. System design, materials, performance and strategies for scale-up and demonstration will be discussed.

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This Week in Hydrogen

September 10–14 gave us five remarkable events both evidencing and advancing the rise of hydrogen in transportation and energy. Any one of them would have made it a significant week; together they make a sea change.

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On the Ground in Japan: Hydrogen Activity Accelerates

A recent Ammonia Energy post mentioned that in December 2017 “the Japanese government . . . approved an updated hydrogen strategy which appears to give ammonia the inside track in the race against liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid organic hydride (LOH) energy carrier systems.”  While this news is positive, the hydrogen strategy remains the essential context for economic implementation of ammonia energy technologies in Japan; ammonia’s prospects are only as bright as those of hydrogen.  This is why Ammonia Energy asks from time to time, how is hydrogen faring in Japan?

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Direct Ammonia Fuel Cell Utilizing an OH- Ion Conducting Membrane Electrolyte

We describe the techno-economic background and the R&D work scheduled for the ARPA-E project “Direct Ammonia Fuel Cells (DAFCs) for Transportation Applications,” which is about to start under the REFUEL program. The project is led by Shimshon Gottesfeld & Yushan Yan, University of Delaware, Jia Wang & Radoslav Adzic, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Chulsung Bae, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Bamdad Bahar, Xergy Inc. The multidisciplinary R&D work scheduled will cover the fields of advanced membrane and electrocatalyst development, MEA development and fabrication, and stack engineering. The latter two activities will be supported by work at POCellTech, with Miles Page as lead.…

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China and Australia collaborate on ammonia as a clean transport fuel

The University of Western Australia has entered the increasingly competitive field of ammonia energy research in Australia, announcing a collaborative agreement to develop "the world's first practical ammonia-powered vehicle" as well as an "ammonia-based hydrogen production plant." These goals are supported by funding from the R&D arm of Shenhua Group, formerly a coal company but now "China's largest hydrogen producer with a production capacity to power 40 million fuel cell passenger cars."

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Renewable Hydrogen in Fukushima and a Bridge to the Future

On August 1, 2017 the Japan Government’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) announced that it will proceed with funding for the construction of a hydrogen production plant in Namie Township, about ten kilometers from the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  The project’s budget is not mentioned, but the installation is projected to be “the largest scale in the world” -- in other words, a real bridge to the future and not a demonstration project.  The project no doubt has a variety of motivations, not least the symbolic value of a renewable hydrogen plant rising in the shadow of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station.  In economic terms, though, it appears to be a dead end.  This is unfortunate because a similarly conceived project based on ammonia could be a true bridge-building step that aligns with leading-edge developments elsewhere in the world.

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BOC/Linde Embraces Ammonia-Based Hydrogen Fueling Technology

Dateline Sydney, August 22, 2017.   Industrial gas vendor Linde Group (under its BOC brand) confirms its participation in a previously announced Australian ammonia-energy project.  With the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in the lead, the project partners will build and operate a pilot-scale “ammonia-to-hydrogen cracking” facility that showcases CSIRO’s hydrogen purification membrane technology.  BOC/Linde will contribute goods and services valued at AUD$100,000 (USD$80,000) to the AUD$3.4 million project.