Efficient Ammonia Production

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OPEN 2015
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Project Term:
03/22/2016 - 10/22/2019

Technology Description:

The team led by the University of New Mexico will develop a modular electrochemical process for a power-to-fuel system that can synthesize ammonia directly from nitrogen and water. The proposed synthesis approach will combine chemical and electrochemical steps to facilitate the high-energy step of breaking the nitrogen-nitrogen bond, with projected conversion efficiencies above 70%. By operating at lower temperature and pressure and reducing the air-separation requirement, this technology reduces overall system complexity, thus potentially enabling smaller-scale production at equal or lower costs. Furthermore, the smaller-scale process does not need consistent, baseload power to operate and therefore could be compatible with intermittent renewable energy sources, placing it on a path to be carbon-neutral.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the proposed technology could enable distributed ammonia production for alternative fuels and agricultural use, decrease energy input by more than 20%, and substantially simplify the process.


Over half of U.S. ammonia is currently imported. The proposed method enables domestic and distributed ammonia production to limit supply vulnerabilities.


The team’s innovations could enable small-sale ammonia reactors that operate using intermittent renewable energy sources, thus making a zero-carbon fuel and fertilizer thereby reducing our carbon footprint.


Low-cost production of ammonia could benefit stationary and transportation energy sectors as a lower cost alternative to batteries for long-term energy storage.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact:
Fernando Garzon
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Los Alamos National Laboratory

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