Next-Generation Ammonia System Integration Utilizing Intermittent Renewable Power
REFUEL projects aid in the development of energy carriers that are readily produced and easily transported, like ammonia. The REFUEL program and related projects have developed promising component technologies and small systems for the synthesis and use of ammonia at a scale of up to 10 kg/day. Developments include new catalysts, reactor designs, separation strategies, strategies for accommodating intermittent electrical power, and technologies to convert ammonia to hydrogen or electricity. These technologies still face significant technical risk, however. They are small-scale and typically focus on one piece of the overall process of ammonia synthesis and use. To mitigate the substantial energy consumption and negative environmental consequences associated with the current chemical process to synthesize ammonia, ARPA-E is funding a pre-production, integrated system involving a skid-mounted ammonia synthesis system at a production scale of 1 metric ton of ammonia per day and validating select ammonia utilization technologies at a smaller scale.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
RTI International and its partners will develop a Technology Integration Platform (TIP) to demonstrate next-generation ammonia production from intermittent renewable energy in a skid-mounted, modular testbed that is responsive to locational marginal pricing of electricity. The project leverages the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center’s operational hybrid wind and solar-to-ammonia field site to integrate the most promising breakthrough technologies developed in ARPA-E’s REFUEL program. The TIP aims to demonstrate a disruptive modular, flexible process to produce 1 metric ton of low-carbon ammonia per day. It can accommodate several downstream ammonia utilization technology demonstrations, including ammonia cracking, to produce hydrogen and power generation to further enable the vision and expand the markets for ammonia as an energy carrier.
Successful integration of ammonia synthesis technologies will:
Establish a new manufacturing base for energy technology in the U.S.
Reduce the energy intensity and carbon emissions of ammonia synthesis and maximize renewable energy usage by capturing generation fluctuations and matching demand.
Establish a path forward to continued private sector development, scaling, and deployment of these distributed ammonia production technologies, so modular plants can be built closer to end users.