Electrochemical Ammonia Conversion

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Pasadena, California
Project Term:
05/22/2017 - 08/21/2020

Technology Description:

SAFCell will develop a novel electrochemical system that converts ammonia to hydrogen. The key innovation is the use of a solid acid electrolyte, a type of electrolyte that is stable in the presence of ammonia while under the operating conditions needed for reactions. Solid acid fuel cell stacks operate at intermediate temperatures (around 250°C) and demonstrate high tolerances to typical anode catalyst poisons such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide without a significant decrease in performance. The system also aims to realize the conversion of ammonia along with the purification and compression of hydrogen in a single, cost-effective system, thus greatly simplifying the infrastructure required to transport and store hydrogen. These properties give solid acid fuel cell devices advantages over other fuel cell technologies in cost, durability, start/stop cycling, fuel flexibility, and simplified system design.

Potential Impact:

If successful, developments from REFUEL projects will enable energy generated from domestic, renewable resources to increase fuel diversity in the transportation sector in a cost-effective and efficient way.


The U.S. transportation sector is heavily dependent on petroleum for its energy. Increasing the diversity of energy-dense liquid fuels would bolster energy security and help reduce energy imports.


Liquid fuels created using energy from renewable resources are carbon-neutral, helping reduce transportation sector emissions.


Fuel diversity reduces exposure to price volatility. By storing energy in hydrogen-rich liquid fuels instead of pure hydrogen in liquid or gaseous form, transportation costs can be greatly reduced, helping make CNLFs cost-competitive with traditional fuels.


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


Liox Power
Northwestern University
FuelCell Energy, Inc.

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