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Storage of Ammonia For Energy (SAFE) - AGT Pilot

EPSRC - EP/T009314/1

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A hydrogen economy has been the focus of researchers and developers over the decades. However, the complexity of moving and storing hydrogen has always been a major obstacle to deploy the concept. Therefore, other materials can be employed to improve handling whilst reducing cost over long distances and long periods. Ammonia, a highly hydrogenated molecule, can be used to store and distribute hydrogen easily, as the molecule has been employed for more than 120 years for fertilizer purposes. Being a carbon-free chemical, ammonia (NH3) has the potential to support a hydrogen transition thus decarbonising transport, power and industries.

However, the complexity of using ammonia for power generation lays on the appropriate use of the chemical to reach high power outputs combined with currently low efficiencies that bring up overall costs. This complex scenario is also linked to the production of combustion profiles that tend to be highly polluting (with high NOx emissions and slipped unburned ammonia). There is no technology capable of using ammonia whilst producing both low emissions and high efficiencies in large power generation devices, thus efficiently enabling the recovery of hydrogen and reconversion of stranded, green energy that can be fed back to the grid. Tackling these problems can resolve one of the most important barriers in the use of such a molecule and storage of renewable energies. Countries such as Japan have engaged in ambitious programs to resolve these issues, aiming for large power units to run on ammonia by 2030. Thus, European counterparts, led by UK innovation, need also to engage in these technological advancements to fully unlock a hydrogen, cost-effective economy.

Therefore, this project seeks to establish fundamental results that will ensure the development of an improved combustor for the use of ammonia to produce low NOx emissions combined with low ammonia slip. Hydrogen production, which will be generated through the combustion process of NH3, will also serve to increase power outputs, thus enabling the production of large power in compact systems, raising efficiency and decreasing overall cost. Improvement techniques will be assessed in currently deployed systems (Siemens gas turbines) to determine the feasibility of implementation in these devices, cutting both costs and times for units that can be employed to use ammonia as fuel in the near future. The novel combustion system proposed will be also integrated into a new ammonia micro gas turbine. The system will be combined with novel thermodynamic principles that will lead into a trigeneration cycle (cooling, power and heat) to unlock all the potential benefits of ammonia, whilst raising even more the efficiency of the system, thus creating a unique, competitive technology that can be implemented to support the hydrogen transition with negligible carbon footprint and environmental penalties.

The project will be supported by companies of international reputation (Siemens, Yara, National Instruments) and UK-European innovation enterprises looking for new areas of development (Hieta, Scitek, CoolDynamics) with the creation of unique, innovative products needed for the implementation of ammonia combustion systems and humidified ammonia-hydrogen cycles. Moreover, the outcome of the project will be ensured via Open Access documentation with bespoke numerical and experimental results that will be supplemented by series of high impact publications and seminars, thus increasing awareness of the importance of using ammonia as part of the energy mix of the following decades, having the UK as core of these developments.

Further detail can be found on the SAFE website

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