(585r) Economic Analysis of Ammonia Production Using Renewable Energy

Tiffany, D., University of Minnesota
Tiffany, D., University of Minnesota
Economic Analysis of Ammonia Production Using Renewable Energy


Douglas G. Tiffany

Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering

University of Minnesota

Ammonia production has been fundamental to worldwide agricultural productivity growth for over a century with the biggest impacts occurring between 1957 and 1967 in the U.S. This presentation will consider the economic merits of producing this critical input, of which 80% is used in agriculture, at smaller scales in a distributed fashion and from renewable energy versus the prevailing large-scale, centralized production facilities using fossil energy and close to abundant natural gas supplies.

Installed facility cost and production data of a small-scale, renewable ammonia plant offer opportunities to analyze and compare the competitive position of ammonia production at sites close to ammonia markets with wind energy or other renewable sources. Production economics will be presented based upon the pilot plant on site and in operation for three years. In addition, scaled production will be explored to identify scale economies that may be attractive for operational and financial considerations. Segregated analyses of stages of ammonia production will be presented for hydrogen from water hydrolysis, nitrogen from pressure swing absorption and ammonia synthesis based on the Haber-Bosch process using iron catalysts. Absorbent technologies have been developed by this research team that offer potential capital savings due to reduced pressure and smaller operational costs, requiring less energy. Logistical advantages of distributed production include smaller transportation costs and reduced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Potential state and federal policy incentives to reward distributed renewable production of this key agricultural and industrial input will be discussed.