Advanced Materials

Sustainable ammonia production


Dr Franck Natali

Ammonia is one of the single largest chemical industrial processes on earth; globally, ammonia-based fertilisers are responsible for 50 percent of the world’s food production. However, ammonia is currently produced using the Haber-Bosch process, which is very energy-intensive, creates high greenhouse gas emissions, and is only economically viable at 100s to 1,000s of tonnes production per day, which greatly increases overall operating and capital costs.

Victoria University of Wellington researchers have discovered a new way of synthesising ammonia that could revolutionise the way it is produced, making the process more economically feasible and environmentally friendly—and potentially helping to develop an affordable, sustainable, hydrogen economy. 

The researchers' patented method—which involves breaking nitrogen bonds under mild conditions, i.e. room temperature and low pressure—would make it less energy-intensive and more environmentally friendly as a result, potentially reducing the massive carbon footprint created by the current industrial ammonia production process.



Features and benefits

Better for the environment

Because the method involves breaking nitrogen bonds under mild conditions, it would consume less energy than the current severe processes, emitting less greenhouse gases into the environment as a result. 

Cheaper to produce

Employing the researchers' novel technique, ammonia could be produced using small, decentralised, modular production plants that could operate from renewable energy—creating a lower barrier to entry for green ammonia production.

Cost-efficient storage for clean hydrogen

Ammonia is a carbon-free chemical carrier of hydrogen. Its chemical and physical properties are well understood, which makes it an attractive material to address the significant challenge of storing and distributing neat hydrogen. 

Next steps

One of the project leaders—Dr Franck Natali from the University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology—is working from the Wellington UniVentures office for two days a week as ‘Innovator-in-Residence’ in order to transform the intellectual property from the ammonia project into a marketable product. 

Dr Natali and Dr Paul Geraghty (Commercialisation Manager) are working together to understand the new market opportunities and technical development pathway required for these new catalysts as this technology transitions from the lab bench to a commercial production facility.


We are now seeking industry partners to help commercialise this technology. Get in touch with the Commercialisation Manager below to find out more.


Paul G
Paul Geraghty

Commercialisation Manager

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Franck Natali


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