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Ammonia: Fertilizer Manufacturers' Green Energy Bet

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Wojciech Zylm
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Ammonia: Fertilizer Manufacturers' Green Energy Bet

Ammonia, a common compound utilized in the agricultural sector, is now seen in a new light, touted as a promising alternative to fossil fuels. Its high energy density and carbon-free combustion properties make it an attractive candidate in the energy sector. Fertilizer manufacturers, masters in the production of ammonia, are increasingly eyeing this emerging market potential.

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A New Dawn for Ammonia

Traditionally, the primary use of ammonia has been in fertilizers. However, the increasing demand for cleaner energy sources and the urgent call to curb greenhouse gas emissions has triggered a shift. Companies are now leveraging their existing infrastructure and expertise in ammonia production to cater to the energy sector.

Riding the Green Wave

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Ammonia has shown its potential in various applications. For instance, H2SITE demonstrated ammonia cracking to power a hydrogen fuel cell on an offshore supply ship, a part of the H2OCEAN project in Spain. The technology, aimed at onboard sea vessels, underscores the promise of ammonia as a carrier for hydrogen fuel. Furthermore, Höegh Autoliners is making headway on its Aurora PCTC vessel, capable of running on zero-carbon ammonia, testifying to the feasibility of ammonia as a marine fuel.

Addressing the Challenges

However, the picture isn't entirely rosy. The use of ammonia as a fuel has sparked diverse opinions. While some laud it as a zero-carbon alternative, others express concerns about its toxicity and corrosiveness. In addition, shipping companies contemplating the transition to low and zero carbon fuels face challenges, such as the technological maturity of alternative fuels.

Despite these concerns, the potential benefits of ammonia seem to outweigh the downsides. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has completed a successful combustion test of an ammonia single-fuel burner for thermal power generation boilers, confirming stable combustion and reduced nitrogen oxide emissions. This development is a significant stride towards harnessing ammonia as a fuel for power generation.

The move towards ammonia is not just a business opportunity for fertilizer manufacturers; it forms a part of the broader global efforts to transition to a sustainable energy landscape. By investing in research and development to optimize ammonia production and adapting their facilities for energy-related ammonia supply, these firms are contributing to a much-needed push towards a greener future.

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