The technology: Significantly, sparsely populated Australia was particularly early to rely on ammonia as a “renewable fuel from sun, water and air” (Science). There, the potential for solar and wind energy is huge, but potential customers like the hydrogen-loving Japanese are far away. Liquefied ammonia is a good export. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has long since included large quantities of ammonia in its sustainable development scenario. A first step in this direction is to generate the high pressures and temperatures required for the Haber-Bosch process with green energy. In the laboratories, however, engineers are looking for reaction accelerators (catalysts) to produce green ammonia in a more elegant way.
The catch: a general caveat about all techniques that depend on green power applies here, too: There are (still) far too few of them. A second comes in the case of ammonia. Produced conventionally, it is itself a climate burden. According to calculations by the Royal Society, its production accounts for around two percent of global CO₂ emissions, and these emissions must first be reduced. Third, there are still the doubts about the hydrogen economy: where does it make sense? How long will it take to build the infrastructure?
NH3.ONLINE does not stink
State of affairs: the stinking energy carrier will probably celebrate its premiere on the high seas. “Ammonia has many advantages, including the fact that it can be used in combustion engines,” stresses the shipowners’ association International Chamber of Shipping in a November study. As early as 2024, world-leading truck manufacturers in marine diesel engines could launch the first dedicated ammonia marine engine. A year later, an eco-power plant for the production of green ammonia is to be built in the oil kingdom of Saudi Arabia, of all places. On land, Russia and Japan recently agreed to cooperate on using Siberian ammonia as fuel in Japanese power plants. If a clean technology for NH₃ production now matures, this substance could help solve a world problem for the second time.
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