Reflections on the last meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee: the time is ripe for maritime ammonia

To develop sufficient ammonia supply to meet future maritime fuel demands, we face a herculean task. The recent meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) gives us an insight into the key next steps to address financial & regulatory challenges. For the first time, MEPC 78 introduced the idea of a “Zero by 2050” goal for global shipping: a steep change in ambition. The use of funds from mechanisms like carbon pricing to ensure a fair, just and equitable transition, the necessity of high-impact investment to drive the fuel transition, and the adoption of new LCA guidelines in the next twelve months were also discussed. The drive & ambition shown at MEPC 78 indicates that the time is ripe for maritime ammonia to position itself as the fuel of choice for the global shipping industry.


Decarbonizing fossil-based ammonia production in North America

Our latest Ammonia Project Features webinar focused on various pathways for decarbonizing fossil-based ammonia production in North America. Blake Adair from Nutrien took us on a tour of some of his organisation’s existing low-carbon ammonia production facilities. He also explained how the technology solutions already exist to drive down emissions from hydrogen production, and improve rates of carbon capture. Dr. Amgad Elgowainy from Argonne National Laboratories then presented his team’s analysis of carbon dioxide mitigation costs for ammonia production, noting that current federal incentives for CCS projects already have a material impact on project costs. With incentives in place and mature technology available, we will soon see more low-carbon ammonia production projects emerge in North America.


Ammonia combustion analysis: powertrains, turbines & power generation

This week we explore four updates in ammonia combustion R&D:

1. A team from the University of Cambridge has shown merchant vessels are the strongest candidates for conversion to run on ammonia powertrains, with cargo capacity losses of 4-9% able to be feasibly offset by operators.

2. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have successfully tested a thermochemical recuperation (TCR) reactor to improve the efficiency of a dual-fuel, diesel-ammonia compression ignition engine by minimising ammonia slip.

3. A global team led by Cardiff University researchers has revealed some of the inner workings of ammonia combustion in gas turbine flames.

4. A global team has produced a cradle-to-gate environmental assessment for ammonia production and ammonia-based electricity generation, suggesting that renewable and nuclear ammonia have a significant role to play in decarbonising the power sector.


Quantifying the emissions footprint of the nitrogen industry

Understanding and quantifying the emissions footprint of an industry is critical to decarbonisation efforts. Without high quality and standardised data, an industry will continually stall on lowering emissions. But this is quickly changing. Companies are seeking to understand their emissions landscape and benchmark themselves accurately. Many leading companies are setting ambitious emissions reduction targets. But its not just the first movers from whom this data matters. Policy is changing as with emissions trading schemes are rolled out across the world. This will force the laggards into action. CRU has developed readily available standardised data and methodologies to capture emissions across…


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.


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).


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.”


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.


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.


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…