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The Ammonia Wrap: Ørsted’s P2X vision for the North Sea, Gunvor’s new sustainability commitments, the finance world backs green hydrogen and Hydrofuel-Ontario Tech’s new partnership

Welcome to the Ammonia Wrap: a summary of all the latest announcements, news items and publications about ammonia energy. This week: Ørsted unveils its P2X vision for the North Sea, energy trader Gunvor commits $500 million to sustainability, emissions reductions, finance world backs green hydrogen, Hydrofuel and Ontario Tech join forces and a new blue hydrogen/ammonia collaboration.

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Ammonia Energy Live March 2021: event wrap

Last week we presented the second episode in our monthly webinar series: Ammonia Energy Live. Every month we’ll explore the wonderful world of ammonia energy and the role it will play in global decarbonisation - with an Australian twist. This episode we welcomed Sammy Van Den Broeck, VP Project & Portfolio at Yara Clean Ammonia. Sammy was invited to give his thoughts on the key challenges and opportunities in the global ammonia transition, and explain to us why Australia is so important to Yara's future clean ammonia plans. Interviewing Sammy were Jacinta Bakker (Research Fellow in the MacFarlane Laboratory at Monash University) and Allison Gwilt (Senior Project Engineer, Future Fuels at Origin Energy).

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Hydrogen Council publishes Life-Cycle Analysis of Decarbonization Pathways

The Hydrogen Council has published a valuable report with a rigorous life-cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas emissions from various hydrogen applications. It illustrates the report with eight specific examples, two of which focus on ammonia. With green hydrogen as an input to ammonia used in fertilizer production, we could deliver a 96% reduction in emissions. With blue hydrogen exported and combusted as ammonia for electric power generation, we could deliver an 84% reduction in emissions. As the report states at the start: “Life-cycle emissions are coming into focus with scaling-up of hydrogen … To deliver on the sustainability promise, it is … not only important to make it economically viable, but also maximize its decarbonization potential.”

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Carbon intensity of fossil ammonia in a net-zero world

In discussions of carbon capture technology for low-carbon ammonia production, there are two informal rule-of-thumb numbers: 60% and 90%. We know we can capture, at very little additional cost, over 60% of the CO2 from a natural gas-based ammonia plant because this is the process gas (the byproduct of hydrogen production). Many ammonia plants already utilize this pure CO2 stream to produce urea or to sell as food grade CO2. The remaining CO2 emissions are in the much more dilute flue gas (the product of fuel combustion to power the process). For some decades we have assumed we could capture most of this but the lingering question has always been: how much of that flue gas is economically feasible to capture? A team of researchers at Imperial College London has just published a fascinating study into this question, entitled “Beyond 90% capture: Possible, but at what cost?” The paper quantifies the tipping point — ranging from 90% to 99%, depending on flow rates and concentration — beyond which it is easier to capture CO2 directly from the air than it is to capture more flue gas emissions.

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The full picture: an assessment of shipping’s emissions must be based on full lifecycle accounting

When you go to see a film in the cinema, the closing credits go on for another five minutes after the film is over. Although few moviegoers stay to read them, the lengthy credit rolls clearly show that a blockbuster is not just about actors but also about the hundreds of people behind the scenes. These people are as important as the main actors in the movie making process. A similar situation occurs with a ship’s climate emissions: if we only account for what’s coming out of the stacks, we don’t understand the real climate impact of the fuel. The full life-cycle of emissions contributes to climate pollution, and we need to recognise their role in climate change. Shipping is an industry with long-term planning horizons and long-lived assets. It is crucial that policy makers in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Union (EU) provide clear guidance and a robust policy framework to account for the full climate impact of fuels.

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Life-cycle analysis of green ammonia and its application as fertilizer building block

Conventionally, ammonia is produced from natural gas via steam methane reforming, water-gas shift reaction, and Haber-Bosch process. The process uses fossil fuels extensively and leads to 2.7 ton of CO2 emission per ton ammonia produced. With ammonia being the second largest chemical produced in the world, its production accounts for approximately 2% of worldwide fossil fuel use and generates over 420 million tons of CO2 annually. To decarbonize the ammonia sector, green ammonia synthesis pathways are of increasing interest. Green ammonia originates from air, water, and renewable electricity, and thus could be produced with low or zero carbon emissions. Since…

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Yara and BASF open their brand-new, world-scale plant, producing low-carbon ammonia

The newest ammonia plant on the planet has opened in Freeport, Texas. A joint venture between Yara and BASF, this world-scale ammonia plant uses no fossil fuel feedstock. Instead, it will produce 750,000 metric tons of ammonia per year using hydrogen and nitrogen delivered directly by pipeline. The plant's hydrogen contract is structured so that the primary supply is byproduct hydrogen, rather than hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, and therefore the Freeport plant can claim that its ammonia has a significantly reduced carbon footprint. This new ammonia plant demonstrates three truths. First, low-carbon merchant ammonia is available for purchase in industrial quantities today: this is not just technically feasible but also economically competitive. Second, carbon intensity is measured in shades of grey, not black and white. Ammonia is not necessarily carbon-free or carbon-full, but it has a carbon intensity that can quantified and, in a carbon-constrained economy, less carbon content equates to higher premium pricing. Third, the ammonia industry must improve its carbon footprinting before it can hope to be rewarded for producing green ammonia.

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Optimizing technology pathways for Ammonia Fuel: production, transportation, and use

A paper has just been published by researchers in The Philippines who set out to determine the most environmentally benign way to produce, transport, and use ammonia as a fuel for vehicles. This new work provides a detailed life cycle analysis of a broad range of ammonia technologies, evaluating both carbon and nitrogen footprints of each, and identifying the optimal "well-to-wheel" pathway. Their results support the idea that using ammonia for energy presents a safe and sustainable way to bring about the hydrogen economy.