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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...

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  • Aug 21, 2020
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Reaction Engines announce a “ground-breaking study” on ammonia as a fuel for zero-emission aircraft. according to this article

 

Dr Massey and I discuss Ammonia:

 

Join me 22 September

 

Discussions
Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Aug 22, 2020

With ammonia fueled aviation, we can rest assured that we can move away from fossil fuel without compromising on our modern, energy-rich lifestyles.  And we can say no to biofuel, with its very high land use per GWatt produced.

It is good to see the British team working on a demonstration of ammonia for aviation. We can be confident that the problem is solvable, given that there has already been a lot of work on using ammonia in turbine engines, particularly from Japanese teams, and mostly for small power plant applications, such as this paper from the "2018 NH3 Fuel Conference".

That said, we should acknowledge the downside.   Ammonia has only 43% of the energy per unit weight of jet fuel.  That means the very longest flights (e.g. trans-Pacific) would not be possible with ammonia, or they'd need a Hawaiian refueling stop.

The lower energy density of ammonia compared to jet fuel also implies lower fuel efficiency, since fuel is typically a third or so of a jet's take-off weight.  That means that aviation will not be among the low-hanging fruit that gets decarbonized first.

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