Advanced Materials

Sustainable ammonia production

advanced-materials
Liquium

Dr Jay Chan and Dr Franck Natali assemble the project's new reactor

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

This project has now been renamed ‘Liquium’ and a new website has been developed: liquium.nz. The website includes further information about the project for keen investors and relevant global industrial companies who are working in the chemical, hydrogen and heavy transport markets as well as the energy sector.

As of April 2021, a new reactor was installed to accelerate the synthesis process. This will allow the team to establish key figures of merit and from a commercial perspective, evaluate how the ammonia production process aligns to industry standards and what the potential is to upscale the technology.

 

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

 

The Liquium Team: Dr Franck Natali, Dr Paul Geraghty and Dr Jay Chan 

Paul G
advanced-materials
Paul Geraghty

Senior Commercialisation Manager

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Frank
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Franck Natali

Innovator-in-Residence

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