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The Ammonia Wrap: commercial turbines, another GW of green ammonia, Viking Energy updates, and “any-fuel” high-temp PEM fuel cells

Welcome to the Ammonia Wrap: a summary of all the latest announcements, news items and publications about ammonia energy. This week: commercialised ammonia gas turbines, TDK and GenCell join forces, another GW of green ammonia production, small-scale green ammonia in rural Japan, hydroelectric ammonia in Laos, Viking Energy vessel updates, new partnerships for Haldor Topsoe and "any-fuel" high-temp PEM fuel cells.

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New Twists for Japanese Ene Farms

Over the last two months, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has selected at least four natural gas utilities to participate in “verification projects” under its Building Virtual Power Plant Using Customer-Side Energy Resources program. Participating utilities so far include Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas, Seibu Gas, and J Power. The program is intended to facilitate the development of renewable electricity in Japan and is shining a new light on the deployment of fuel cells in the country's built environment.

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Environmental and Economic Assessment of Ammonia as a Fuel for Ships

This month, the Korean Register published a comparative assessment of the environmental and economic merits of using ammonia as a maritime fuel. The work, written in collaboration with researchers at Pusan National University, is published in the open-access Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. It concludes that "ammonia can be a carbon-free fuel for ships," and presents "a meaningful approach toward solving GHG problems in the maritime industry."

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Japan Advances SOFCs for the Built Environment

A steady stream of Japanese news reports over the last several months attest to the country’s progress in deploying fuel cells in the built environment. Dubbed “Ene-Farms,” the appliances function as micro-scale combined heat and power units, providing electricity as well as heat for domestic applications. Most of the Ene-Farms deployed so far feature proton-exchange membrane (PEM) technology (which requires high-purity hydrogen). However, two recent developments show that solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology (well suited for ammonia) could play a role, maybe even a large role, in Japan's Hydrogen Society.

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Viking Energy to be retrofit for ammonia fuel in 2024

This morning, it was announced that the "Viking Energy," a supply vessel for Equinor's offshore operations, will be modified to run on a 2 MW direct ammonia fuel cell. This will be a five year project: the technology will be scaled-up on land before being installed on the vessel, which will begin a year of GHG emission-free operations in 2024. The Norwegian partners leading this "world's first" project include shipowner Eidesvik, contractor Equinor, and ammonia producer Yara, as well as Wärtsilä (Wärtsilä Norway), responsible for power technology and ammonia storage and distribution systems, and Prototech, delivering the fuel cell system.

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Tri-State announces clean energy plan, retires coal assets

Yesterday, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association launched its "transformative" Responsible Energy Plan, which will "dramatically and rapidly advance the wholesale power supply cooperative’s clean energy portfolio." Last week, the utility announced the retirement of its last coal-fired power plants in New Mexico and Colorado. These two announcements provide context for a presentation at the Ammonia Energy Conference in November 2019, entitled Market Integrated Ammonia. Its conclusion — highly relevant for a utility that is closing its coal plants and increasing renewables to 50% by 2024 — is that in a wholesale electricity market with increased volatility, renewable ammonia could be produced at the extremely low cost of $96 per tonne.

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Safe and Effective? New Study Evaluates Ammonia as a Marine Fuel

In mid-June the Dutch naval architecture firm C-Job released "Safe and effective application of ammonia as a marine fuel," a thesis written by the firm’s Lead Naval Architect Niels de Vries for the Marine Technology Master of Science program at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. While the thesis delivers an extensive assessment of ammonia's potential effectiveness as a marine fuel, it breaks new ground in its consideration of ammonia's safety in this context.

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Green ammonia: Haldor Topsoe’s solid oxide electrolyzer

Haldor Topsoe has greatly improved the near-term prospects for green ammonia by announcing a demonstration of its next-generation ammonia synthesis plant. This new technology uses a solid oxide electrolysis cell to make synthesis gas (hydrogen and nitrogen), which feeds Haldor Topsoe's existing technology: the Haber-Bosch plant. The product is ammonia, made from air, water, and renewable electricity. The "SOC4NH3" project was recently awarded funds from the Danish Energy Agency, allowing Haldor Topsoe to demonstrate the system with its academic partners, and to deliver a feasibility study for a small industrial-scale green ammonia pilot plant, which it hopes to build by 2025. There are two dimensions to this technology that make it so important: its credibility and its efficiency.

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Development of Catalytic Reactors and Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Systems for Utilization of Ammonia

Hydrogen is the primary fuel source for fuel cells. However, the low volume density and difficulty in storage and transportation are major obstacles for the practical utilization. Among various hydrogen carriers, ammonia is one of the promising candidates because of its high hydrogen density and boiling point and ease in liquefaction and transportation. The reaction temperature of ammonia cracking to nitrogen and hydrogen, being about 600°C or higher, is close to the operating temperature of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). The integration of these two devices is beneficial in terms of heat and energy managements and will lead to the…

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Power-to-Ammonia-to-Power (P2A2P) for Local Electricity Storage in 2025

A carbon-free, circular economy is required to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A commonly named alternative to the carbon-based economy is the hydrogen economy. However, storing and transporting hydrogen is difficult. Therefore, the ammonia economy is proposed. Ammonia (NH3) is a carbon-free hydrogen carrier, which can mediate the hydrogen economy. Especially for long-term storage (above 1 day), ammonia is more economically stored than hydrogen. Transportation costs are greatly reduced by adopting a decentralized energy economy. Furthermore, political-economic factors influence energy prices less in a decentralized energy economy. With small-scale ammonia production gaining momentum, business models for the decentralized ammonia economy are…