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What is Ammonia

Ammonia is a liquid chemical composed of nitrogen and hydrogen. One of the most recent advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology has been using ammonia as a carrier system to deliver hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel cells.

One of the key problems of adapting hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into everyday use is developing infrastructure to store and transport hydrogen for refuelling. Hydrogen is difficult and expensive to transport and building these capabilities would require considerable time and resources. As ammonia is widely in use all over the world, we already have the facilities in place to transport and deliver hydrogen. For these reasons, ammonia is set to revolutionise the hydrogen market and reduce logistic costs.

How Does It Work?

Several countries and key investors are currently working on creating ammonia from air and water through renewable energy sources. This new green ammonia can then be easily exported and shipped all over the world for use in fuel cell vehicles.

In this sense, ammonia can function as an effective and secure carrier for hydrogen. Once it has reached its destination, it can then be converted through thermal decomposition or catalytic cracking to split the ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen.

New technology has also been developed whereby ammonia can be directly used as a fuel source in solid oxide fuel cells. This process involves a chemical reaction that generates electricity in the same way as a hydrogen fuel cell.

The Future ammonia

The concept of using ammonia as a transporter for hydrogen is relatively new, but researchers and corporate stakeholders are optimistic.

Easy to transport and composed of three-parts hydrogen to one-part nitrogen, it is clear to see why ammonia could be the fuel carrier of the future.

Major players in the energy sector have started to invest in green ammonia. For instance, BP Australia has recently conducted a feasibility study. From their research, the multinational energy giant found that producing green hydrogen and ammonia in Western Australia would be a key export for the country in the future.

Benefits of Ammonia

  • Existing Infrastructure: As ammonia is widely used, the systems and infrastructure for exporting and storing already exists.
  • Cheap And Secure Transport: Ammonia is a much more cost-effective and secure way of transporting hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen Rich: When liquefied, ammonia contains 48% more hydrogen by volume as it is made of three hydrogen molecules.
  • Zero Emissions: Although using renewable energy to produce ammonia is still quite new, ammonia can be an end-to-end carbon-zero fuel source from production through to consumption.
  • Fast-Growing Market: The global ammonia market was valued at US$48.65 billion in 2016 and is forecasted to reach US$76.64 billion by 2025.

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