Innovation in green ammonia: potentially reducing global emissions by 2%

Researchers from The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have developed a green ammonia which can be used as an eco-fuel, potentially reducing global emissions by 2%.

Comprised of three hydrogen atoms bonded to a single nitrogen atom, Ammonia is widely used to make fertilisers for food production. Unfortunately, the production of this compound is the world’s third largest industrial process emitter of carbon dioxide, amounting to almost half a billion tonnes of CO₂ each year.

In a report published for the Royal Society, researchers have highlighted that producing zero-carbon green ammonia has the potential to cut the global emissions by 2%. By reacting methane with steam to produce hydrogen and reacting this with nitrogen from the air, which also known as the Haber-Bosch process, one can create ammonia. This steam methane reforming process has also been found to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

According to a study conducted by The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, researchers have developed a unique green ammonia demonstration system. Powered by an on-site wind turbine, this production method can produce up to 30kg of green ammonia in just one day, in a far sustainable and economically sound manner.

Can ammonia be used as fuel?

According to Bill David, Professor of Chemistry, University of Oxford, this green ammonia can also be used as a zero-carbon fuel. Ammonia can be stored at large quantities as a liquid or refrigerated to 33°C.

As published in the Royal Society report, one can produce electricity from ammonia either through combustion methods or when it is stored as a fuel cell. Researchers have predicted that the maritime industry is likely to be one of the first to adopt this fuel method.

This report highlights that by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is released during the ammonia production process is critical to achieve net-zero targets by 2050.

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