Hydrogen energyProject Ammonia Production from Renewables
This mid-term report describes how the project team has improved the performance of producing ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen at ambient conditions.
This project aims to further develop the nitrogen reduction to ammonia process being developed at Monash University in collaboration with University of Wollongong. Using renewables as the input energy the process can produce ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen at ambient conditions. The project will further optimise the process and the design of the electrolytic cells, lifting its TRL from 2 to 4. The product of this process, liquid ammonia, is increasingly seen as a viable renewable energy export vector; the handling, pipeline transfer and shipping of ammonia by bulk carrier are well recognised technologies. Also emerging is an understanding of the wide range of transportation and power generation technologies in which ammonia cans serve as a direct substitute for fossil fuels such as diesel, kerosene, LPG and natural gas.
The project origins were several discoveries in the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at Monash University in 2016 and 2017. The ARENA funded project aims to develop and optimise these discoveries building from TRL 2 to TRL 4. The technology is based on the principle that high selectivity towards nitrogen reduction can be obtained in an electrolysis type cell by limiting the presence of water in the electrolyte. The project therefore involves further optimisation and development of the electrolyte chemistry as well as the electrode substrate and other components that are intrinsic to the electrochemical reaction.
At the same time, development to higher TR Levels requires new cell engineering to optimise the interaction of the gaseous reactant (nitrogen) the ultimately gaseous product (ammonia) with the liquid or gelled electrolyte and the solid phase electrode material. Aspects of this are similar to fuel cell technology and others are similar to traditional water electrolyser technology. Building on expertise developed within ACES at University of Wollongong the project therefore also focusses on electrode design and preparation.
The project is making good progress towards its goal of laying the ground work for further scale up and commercial development of the Monash process towards large scale renewable ammonia as an exportable form of renewable energy.