(498g) Comprehensive Evaluation of NH3 Production and Utilization Options for Clean Energy Applications

Authors: 
Vezina, G., Hydrofuel Inc.
Vezina, G., Hydrofuel Inc.
Mitacs Accelerate Project

Final Report

Application Ref.: IT08015

 

Comprehensive Evaluation of NH3 Production and Utilization Options for Clean Energy Applications

 

Period:

September 2016 - March 2017

Submission Date:

March 25, 2017

Principal Investigator:

Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Dincer

Intern:

Yusuf Bicer

 

Partner Organization:

Hydrofuel®TM Inc.

Table of contents below

The project proposes a comprehensive investigation on the analysis, assessment and optimization of ammonia synthesis processes under renewable energy portfolio, including low-cost hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, ocean, biomass, etc. Furthermore, ammonia production via hydrocarbon decomposition, which will be investigated in the study, is a promising option to utilize fossil fuels in a cleaner and environmentally benign way. Case studies for various locations and applications in communities, cities and provinces to develop and implement clean solutions are performed. The objectives of this project include energy and exergy analyses, environmental impact assessments, thermo-economic analyses and evaluations, optimization studies, experimental investigation, scalability and feasibility analyses. The analyses results will show the optimized solutions for the ammonia synthesis depending on different locations in Canada. Moreover, emerging ammonia synthesis methods will be investigated which can bring additional cost and efficiency benefits.

In the previous project report, a comparison of ammonia and LNG usage in various sectors was conducted. A specific report for Pacific NorthWest LNG Project was prepared to illustrate the advantages of producing and using ammonia instead of LNG. It was concluded that ammonia can be produced on-site using renewable energy and transported via pipelines and tankers to desired locations.

In the previous report, a comparative life cycle, cost and performance assessment of internal combustion engine (ICE) based vehicles fueled by various fuels, ranging from hydrogen to gasoline, was conducted in addition to electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Various types of vehicles were considered, such as ICE vehicles using gasoline, diesel, LPG, methanol, CNG, hydrogen and ammonia; hybrid electric vehicles using 50% gasoline and 50% electricity; and electric only vehicles for comprehensive comparison and environmental impact assessment. The processes were analyzed from raw material extraction to vehicle disposal using life cycle assessment methodology. In order to reflect the sustainability of the vehicles, seven different environmental impact categories were considered: abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming, human toxicity, ozone layer depletion and terrestrial ecotoxicity. The energy resources were chosen mainly conventional and currently utilized options to indicate the actual performances of the vehicles. The results showed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles result in higher human toxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity and acidification values because of manufacturing and maintenance phases. In contrast, hydrogen and ammonia vehicles yielded the most environmentally benign options.

A detailed literature review for ammonia production from hydrocarbons was conducted. Decomposition of methane into hydrogen and carbon black is divided into two main routes, namely: thermal and plasma. In thermal route, there are catalytic and non-catalytic methods whereas, in plasma route, there are thermal and non-thermal processes for hydrogen/ammonia production. It was observed that Ni and Fe based catalysts can lower the reaction temperature yielding higher efficiencies.

It was concluded that ammonia, as a clean and sustainable transportation fuel, emerges as the most environmentally benign option among other traditional fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions from production of ammonia is lower than other fuels. Furthermore, ammonia does not emit direct greenhouse gas emissions during utilization in the vehicles because of including zero carbon substance. The driving range of ammonia driven vehicles are higher, and the cost per unit km traveled is lower. Henceforth, ammonia usage in the transportation sector will significantly contribute greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Furthermore, a comparative study for the remote communities in Northern Ontario was performed in order to investigate the feasibility of ammonia utilization in diesel generators. In many of the remote First Nation communities located in northwest Ontario, diesel fuel generators are used to provide electricity. Because of the drawbacks related with diesel generation, extending Ontario’s transmission system to these communities was prosed as an option by some of the communities. In the report, ammonia is proposed to substitute diesel for the generators which lowers the cost of operation. There were two scenarios assessed mainly: renewable energy based on-site ammonia production and utilization in remote communities. The other option is to transport the necessary fuel ammonia using trucks and flights to the remote communities. In addition, the comparison of connecting these remote communities by a 1500 km electricity transmission line was comparatively assessed with ammonia and diesel fuel generators.

In the previous report, a small scale experimental setup of solar energy based electrochemical ammonia synthesis was constructed and a few tests were conducted. In the proposed project, the optimization of the experimental setup will be realized using new methods and materials. The chosen electrochemical route is molten salt electrolyte. Scalability analyses of solar energy based electrochemical ammonia synthesis will be performed. Furthermore, comprehensive thermo-economic evaluations of various renewable energy based ammonia production options for Ontario. Using solar concentrators, the experimental setup will be improved to increase the performance of ammonia synthesis.

In addition, a comprehensive investigation on the analysis, assessment and optimization of ammonia synthesis processes under renewable energy portfolio, including low-cost hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, ocean, biomass, etc. will be performed. These will even be further investigated under case studies for various locations and applications in communities, cities and provinces to develop and implement clean solutions. Furthermore, the excess heat from the ammonia synthesis reaction can be utilized for the internal processes by the novel developments in the process and systems. Hence, a study for possible integration of sub-systems for ammonia and other chemicals will be conducted. Ammonia production via hydrocarbon decomposition is a promising option to utilize fossil fuels in a cleaner way. Therefore, the analyses will be performed for the hydrocarbons based ammonia synthesis methods including thermal plasma and thermo-catalytic cracking. The utilization of ammonia for powering, heating and cooling at the same time will be further investigated for the application of the Patent US8272353, CA 2654823 “Methods and Apparatus for Using Ammonia as a Sustainable Fuel, Refrigerant and NOx Reduction”.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES. 4

LIST OF TABLES. 9

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. 11

NOMENCLATURE. 12

SUMMARY.. 14

CHAPTER 1: QUICK FACTS ABOUT AMMONIA.. 15

1. What are the uses of ammonia?. 16

2. Is ammonia really a fuel?. 17

3. Is ammonia a suitable fuel for transportation sector?. 17

4. How can ammonia be used in transportation?. 17

5. Is ammonia a clean fuel?. 17

6. How much greenhouse gas can I save if I drive an ammonia car?. 18

7. Is ammonia a cost effective fuel?. 18

8. What is the process of ammonia production?. 20

9. What is the source of ammonia and is it cleaner than other fuels?. 20

CHAPTER 2: ELECTROCHEMICAL SYNTHESIS OF AMMONIA.. 23

1. Introduction. 23

2. Experimental Investigation and Analysis. 24

3. Results and Discussion. 26

4. Concluding Remarks. 30

CHAPTER 3: ELECTROCHEMICAL AMMONIA SYNTHESIS FROM PHOTOELECTROCHEMICAL HYDROGEN.. 31

1. Introduction. 31

2. Life Cycle Assessment of Photoelectrochemical Hydrogen Based Electrochemical Ammonia Synthesis. 31

3. LCA Uncertainty Analyses Results. 36

4. Experimental Investigation and Analysis. 38

5. Results and Discussion. 39

6. Concluding Remarks. 43

CHAPTER 4: FROM HYDROCARBONS TO AMMONIA.. 44

1. Natural Gas to Ammonia. 44

2. Transport of Natural Gas or Ammonia. 48

3. Case Studies for LNG and Ammonia. 49

Case 1: Europe. 50

Case 2: U.S. 52

Case 3: Middle East 53

Case 4: Ontario, Canada. 55

4. Oil sand to Ammonia. 56

5. Concluding Remarks. 60

CHAPTER 5: AMMONIA IN MARITIME APPLICATIONS. 61

1. Ammonia production routes. 61

2. Methodology. 62

3. Life cycle phases. 63

4. Results and Discussion. 66

5. Concluding Remarks. 75

CHAPTER 6: AMMONIA IN AVIATION.. 76

1. Methodology. 77

2. Description of the Processes. 79

Aircraft manufacturing. 79

Construction and maintenance of airport 79

Operation of the aircraft 79

Maintenance and operation of the airport 82

Transportation via aircraft 82

3. Results and Discussion. 83

4. Concluding Remarks. 89

CHAPTER 7: AMMONIA IN ROAD TRANSPORTATION.. 91

1. Life Cycle Assessment of Vehicles. 92

CHAPTER 8: ON-BOARD AMMONIA UTILIZATION.. 97

1. Life Cycle Assessment of On-Board Ammonia Cracking Vehicles. 97

2. Ammonia Decomposition. 100

3. On-Board Ammonia. 101

4. On-Board Ammonia Electrolysis. 104

5. Case Study for Ammonia Electrolysis Vehicle. 105

6. Thermodynamic Analyses of On-Board Ammonia Electrolysis. 107

CHAPTER 9: ECONOMIC ANALYSES OF SOLAR ENERGY BASED AMMONIA PRODUCTION.. 113

CHAPTER 10: SCALE-UP ANALYSES FOR SOLAR ENERGY BASED AMMONIA PRODUCTION.. 120

7. Case Study for Ontario. 127

CHAPTER 11: CONCLUDING REMARKS. 129

REFERENCES. 130

OTHER MITACS REPORTS REFERENCED:

Includes data from two previous Hydroufel Inc. and University of Ontario Institute of tehcnology (UOIT) MITACS reports:

MITACS REPORT PHASE 1 - Comparative assessment of NH3 production and utilization in transportation systems for Ontario

MITACS REPORT PHASE 2 - Comparative assessment of NH3 production and utilization in agriculture, energy and utilities, and transportation systems for Ontario

OTHER REPORTS REFERENCED:

Includes data from other reports at the HYDROFUEL® INC. website at http://www.NH3fuel.com

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