• 3 Challenges with Ammonia Fuel

Analytical Instrumentation

3 Challenges with Ammonia Fuel

May 27 2022

From maritime transport to aviation, an increasing number of industries are being forced to transition away from fossil fuels and embrace cleaner, more eco-friendly alternatives. Ammonia has stepped up to the plate, with benefits like high energy density and easy storage making it a promising substitute for traditional fuels like oil and gas. Though despite its exciting potential, there are still significant challenges associated with ammonia fuel:

  • Significant carbon dioxide footprint

Currently, most ammonia is produced using hydrogen derived from fossil fuels. This links ammonia to significant carbon dioxide emissions. To address this issue, many producers are making the switch to green ammonia, which is produced with hydrogen created by water electrolysis.  

  • High infrastructure costs

Like most new technologies, the costs associated with developing and building infrastructure for ammonia fuel are high.

  • Nitric oxides and nitrous oxide emissions

While ammonia offers excellent energy density, when combusted the fuel releases significant nitric oxides and nitrous oxides into the atmosphere. These are classed as environmental pollutants and tarnish ammonia’s reputation as an eco-friendly fuel.

The future of ammonia fuel

While ammonia fuel does come with its challenges, it hasn’t stopped companies around the world from investing in infrastructure. JERA, one of the largest power companies in Japan, is at the forefront of the ammonia fuel revolution. Following a grant from the state-owned New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation, the company plans to use ammonia fuel to power 20% of a major coal-fired unit by 2025.

Decarbonising the skies with ammonia fuel

In Singapore, the university-based Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development (MESD) Centre of Excellence is exploring the use of ammonia as a green, low-emissions fuel for the maritime sector. Australian company Aviation H2 has big plans to decarbonise the sky and achieve net-zero emissions in the aerospace sector. The founders plan to retrofit existing aircraft with engines that run on green ammonia instead of conventional jet fuel.

“It's the simplest conversion, and that intrinsically will make it the most reliable, and that in itself makes it intrinsically the safest,” says Christof Mayer, Aviation H2 Director. "The bottom line is, this really needs to happen," adds Mayer, referring to the urgent need to address climate change and decarbonise a myriad of sectors.

“It's got to happen. Now's the time for pioneering development companies like ours to move fast. Down the track, we expect larger companies to work off the back of some of the things we've done. But it's got to be done, and that's part of the reason why there's so much interest in it.”

Until jet fuel is phased out completely, testing remains a critical part of safety in the aviation sector. Find out more about the state-of-the-art instruments being used to comply with ASTM methods in ‘Automated and safe flash point testing for diesel, lube oil and jet fuel’.

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