Measurement and Testing

  • Is Ammonia the Key to Carbon-Free Fuel?

Is Ammonia the Key to Carbon-Free Fuel?

May 04 2018 Read 700 Times

With climate change on the rise and air pollution a global issue, making the switch to green energy is imminent. In recent years, ammonia (NH3) has garnered attention as a carbon-free fuel with zero carbon dioxide emissions.

Now, scientists have successfully developed a new catalyst that's able to burn NH3 at a low combustion temperature and produce only nitrogen (N2) and water as by-products. According to the team the breakthrough could play a key role in developing climate change countermeasures, as well as fast-tracking the renewable energy revolution.

NH3 steps up as H2 alterative

In developed countries, tackling climate change and making the switch to renewable energy are two top priorities. In the past the spotlight has shone firmly on hydrogen (H2) as a renewable energy source. However, for storage and transportation purposes H2 must be converted into liquid form, with ammonia often used as a carrier. Now, the combustible gas has won attention for its potential as a carbon-free alternative fuel.

Currently, ammonia is widely used as a thermal power generator. For example, it's often utilised in industrial furnaces as a substitute for gasoline and light oil. The downside is its high ignition temperature, which makes NH3 difficult to burn. The combustion process also generates harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Japan's breakthrough "catalytic combustion method"

Researchers at Japan's Kumamoto University now assert that they've developed a "catalytic combustion method" that solves the issues by tweaking chemical reactions and converting NH3 to a low combustion temperature fuel.

Working from the International Research Organisation for Advanced Science and Technology (IROAST), the team was able to manipulate the fuel combustion process using different substances. This allowed them to develop CuOx/3A2S, a new catalyst that actively promotes NH3 combustibility and simultaneously suppresses NOx emissions.

"Our catalyst appears to be a step in the right direction to fight anthropogenic climate change since it does not emit greenhouse gasses like CO2 and should improve the sophistication of renewable energy within our society," comments Dr. Satoshi Hinokuma of IROAST, lead author of the study. "We are planning to conduct further research and development under more practical conditions in the future."

Carbon emissions aren't the only by-product being monitored in the oil and gas industry. Cl is also highly regulated, with '4 Ways to Effectively Monitor Total Chlorine in Liquid Hydrocarbons' spotlighting corrosion, a critical issue faced by petroleum refineries across the globe.

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