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Charley Rattan's picture
World Hydrogen Leader , Charley Rattan Associates

UK based offshore wind & hydrogen corporate advisor and trainer; Faculty member World Hydrogen Leaders. Delivering global hydrogen and offshore wind corporate investment advice, business...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Mar 15, 2021
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Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Mar 23, 2021

Good article on ammonia fuel from a VP at Mitsubishi HI.  It basically provides the benefits of hydrogen (a carbon-free carrier of energy from fossil fuel or clean energy) without the inconvenience (H2's bulk makes it costly to transport and store; liquid ammonia has triple the energy density of 5000 psi hydrogen, and doesn't need high pressure).

It's a great multi-purpose solution, especially for fuel importing countries, which could switch to it, and therefore wash their hands of the whole CO2 issue.  It's a great fuel for heavy-duty engines for marine or land shipping.  It can be used to refuel hydrogen cars, since it is easy and efficient to convert to hydrogen at the refueling station.

One Japanese ammonia fuel strategy that seems pretty ridiculous is utility plans to use it for co-firing with coal at power plants.  The idea is that if the government gradually tightens CO2 emissions limits at power plants, the plants can respond by gradually adding more ammonia to the fuel mix.  This is ridiculous because 1) ammonia is expensive like diesel, and coal is much cheaper, and 2) replacing the coal-fired plant with a new combined cycle plant (gas turbine with a heat-recovery steam generator/turbine) would boost efficiency from 42% to 62%, which is super helpful when you're burning expensive fuel. 

I suspect that the Japanese utilities feel that the right answer for the long term is primarily nuclear, with a smaller amount of solar and off-shore wind backed by combined-cycle plants burning ammonia.  But the hysterical nuclear shut-downs are crippling them financially.

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