Ammonia as an Energy Carrier

by | May 7, 2024 | Event, Sustainable Energy | 0 comments

During the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024 in Düsseldorf, Stefano de Cillis, CTO at Proton Ventures, provided a presentation focused on the storage and handling of ammonia, including its decomposition back into hydrogen. Proton Ventures develops green projects and infrastructure supporting the transition to an emission-free ammonia and hydrogen. The company provides project development services, ammonia engineering solutions, and research and development of innovation.

Stefano de Cillis explained that without a system to store and transport intermittent renewable energy sources, our dependency on fossil fuels cannot change. There is a need to expand the renewable energy grid beyond current demand and maximize the uptime of renewable resources. Highly efficient electricity with storage conversion is essential. Renewables must offer high energy intensity, be transportable in small and large quantities, we must be able to use existing systems and infrastructure. There must also be low energy costs for storage and low long-term loss of energy.

A range of renewable energy storage systems are available. These include mechanical conversion such as pumped hydro and subsea compressed storage; thermal conversion, such as concentrated solar with reconversion using high grade heat and steam turbines; electrical storage system supercapacitors and finally, electro/chemical conversion in the form of hydrogen, methanol and ammonia.

De Cillis highlighted that a typical 100 MW solar power plant would take approximately a year to produce an equivalent amount of energy as that contained in 10 kT ammonia storage tank.

Ammonia has typically been used within fertilizer production, but is now being considered as a fuel. The maritime industry is the first to see the potential and ammonia could be a long-term replacement for heavy fuel oil. Ammonia could also be used as a supplementary fuel to coal-fired power stations. It could be cracked and used to fire a combined cycle gas turbine.

Ammonia is also ideally placed to be an energy carrier. Applications and demand for hydrogen is expanding. Ammonia is easier to transport than hydrogen and can be converted back to hydrogen using cracking technology. Studies are also being made on using ammonia as a reactant and for potential use in fuel cells. Tests are also being performed to see if ammonia can be used as a carburant for car engines.

“Green” ammonia production is expected to grow strongly to meet rising demand. Proton Ventures is supporting this requirement with standardized small scale ammonia production plant designs, with capacities ranging from 1-80 kton/annum that minimize capital expenditure and optimize operational expenditure. The company also offers medium- and large-scale production plant designs, with a capacity of 80 kton/annum, rising to 1 million ton/annum. These have dedicated design configurations based on the availability of renewables.

Proton Ventures green ammonia production plant design

Proton Ventures green ammonia production plant design


In addition to production plants, presenter Stefanoi de Cillis outlined some significant existing terminal reference projects and infrastructure to support ammonia storage and handling, such as refrigerated storage tanks, main and holding compressors, and marine and railcar loading/unloading facilities. Safe and efficient operation of these assets are enabled by Emerson’s advanced automation technology, including the DeltaV™ distributed control and safety instrumented system, Rosemount™ tank gauging system, Rosemount instrumentationFisher™ control valves and Bettis™ actuation technology.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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