Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

Breakthrough Energy Coalition targets carbon-free ammonia

A multi-billion dollar clean energy innovation fund was launched last year, at the Paris climate conference. Led by Bill Gates, the private funding enterprise aimed to develop "groundbreaking new carbon-neutral technologies," without specifying details. Now, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is starting work, and one of its initial Technical Quests is to make "Zero-GHG Ammonia Production" a reality.

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How to create a market for low-carbon ammonia: product labeling

I wrote last week about ARPA-E's "transformative" ammonia synthesis technologies, describing three technology pathways under development: low pressure Haber-Bosch, electrochemical processes, and advanced electrolysis. ARPA-E's ambitious R&D program might imply that a meaningful, commercial market for sustainable ammonia is still decades away. It represents, however, only the slow American tip of a fast-moving global iceberg. In Japan, where there's no debate about climate science, the national effort is already well underway, with three programs to develop low-carbon ammonia synthesis under the Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP), 'Energy Carriers.'

Article

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of NH3 as a Transportation Fuel in Ontario

A recent paper from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, published in June 2016, provides new data on the relative efficiency and safety of using ammonia as a transportation fuel. It presents a cradle-to-grave "comparative life cycle assessment" for a range of vehicles, encompassing the vehicle cycles (manufacturing, maintenance, and disposal) and the fuel cycle (operation).

Paper

Key Life Cycle Assessment Numbers for NH3, Green and Brown Energy

This talk will present the results of two recent studies. In the first study, four different ammonia production methods are comparatively evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The proposed ammonia production systems consist of an electrolyzer for hydrogen production and a Haber-Bosch plant for ammonia synthesis. The required energy for the systems are utilized from various resources namely hydropower, nuclear, biomass and municipal waste. Life cycle assessment methodology is used to identify and quantify environmental impacts in global warming potential, human toxicity and abiotic depletion categories of each method during the life cycle of the systems. The proposed non-conventional ammonia…

Paper

Life-cycle greenhouse gas and energy balance of community-scale wind powered ammonia production

As well as being an innovative energy source, ammonia is a crucial component of most nitrogen fertilizers. Since the production of ammonia is very energy intensive and currently completely based on fossil energy, there is a considerable interest in developing renewably produced ammonia for use in agriculture and other sectors. This work presents a life cycle assessment (cradle-to-gate) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and primary energy use for ammonia produced at community-scale using renewable wind generated electricity. Two different regions were studied: Minnesota (US) and Sweden. The results show that ammonia produced with wind-generated electricity has significantly lower fossil energy…

Paper

Ammonia Production Using Wind Energy: An Early Calculation of Life Cycle Carbon Emissions and Fossil Energy Consumption

Industry professionals and others have begun to consider the use of ammonia as a substitute for fossil energy in the fuel, fertilizer, and chemical sectors. Several factors are driving this concept; including, energy security concerns, the potential for economic development, and reducing the environmental consequences of fossil energy use. In terms of environmental concerns, it is important to determine the potential impacts of producing ammonia before a major switch to ammonia can be considered. This study examined fossil energy use and carbon emissions in the production of ammonia, using life cycle assessment (LCA) methods to analyze production at a novel…