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THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Ammonia as a Fuel?

Unread postby lpetrich » Fri 13 Jul 2018, 20:49:48

Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon | Science | AAAS
About Douglas MacFairlane, a chemist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia,
That's where MacFarlane comes in. For the past 4 years, he has been working on a fuel cell that can convert renewable electricity into a carbon-free fuel: ammonia. Fuel cells typically use the energy stored in chemical bonds to make electricity; MacFarlane's operates in reverse. In his third-floor laboratory, he shows off one of the devices, about the size of a hockey puck and clad in stainless steel. Two plastic tubes on its backside feed it nitrogen gas and water, and a power cord supplies electricity. Through a third tube on its front, it silently exhales gaseous ammonia, all without the heat, pressure, and carbon emissions normally needed to make the chemical. "This is breathing nitrogen in and breathing ammonia out," MacFarlane says, beaming like a proud father.

So it is electrolysis of water, with nitrogen added to the hydrogen end to make ammonia.
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Re: Ammonia as a Fuel?

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Fri 13 Jul 2018, 22:15:01

Ammonia is an extremely toxic and corrosive substance. It was once used as a refrigerant, but it killed a lot of people.
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Re: Ammonia as a Fuel?

Unread postby lpetrich » Sat 14 Jul 2018, 08:10:59

Tanada wrote:It is nice of them to finally get on board, but we have known it was an idea, and I think a very good idea, for decades. there were people as far back as the 1970's oil crunch doing ammonia conversions to standard ICE engine cars to use Ammonia as an alternate fuel supply.

Interesting. I checked on ammonia's thermodynamic data at the NIST Chemistry WebBook, and I found that ammonia's critical point is 405 K (132 C) and 113 bar. That means that it can be liquefied at room temperature with enough pressure. 0 C: 4 bar, 25 C: 10 bar, 50 C: 20 bar.

That is much better than hydrogen, with a critical point of 33 K and 13 bar.

From Wikipedia's article on energy density, I find:
Ammonia (NH3 + (3/4)*O2 -> (1/2)*N2 + (3/2)*H2O): 18.6 MJ/kg
Diesel fuel ((CH2) + (3/2)*O2 -> CO2 + H2O): 48 MJ/kg
Only 40%

MJ/kg = megajoules per kilogram

http://peakoil.com/forums/ammonia-fuel-for-just-20-cents-liter-t67738.html

Should we merge the two threads? Perhaps call it "THE Ammonia Thread".

KaiserJeep wrote:Ammonia is an extremely toxic and corrosive substance. It was once used as a refrigerant, but it killed a lot of people.

But it is still used as a cleanser: Which Cleaning Products Contain Ammonia? | Hunker
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Re: Ammonia as a Fuel?

Unread postby diemos » Sat 14 Jul 2018, 09:38:53

KaiserJeep wrote:Ammonia is an extremely toxic and corrosive substance. It was once used as a refrigerant, but it killed a lot of people.


Ah, one of my favorite management aphorisms is, "Something ... is infinitely more than ... nothing."

And when it comes down to a choice between something and nothing there will be all sorts of somethings, with all sorts of unfortunate problems, that we will go with.
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Re: Ammonia as a Fuel?

Unread postby efarmer » Sat 14 Jul 2018, 16:09:18

Well if someone in my neighborhood gets an ammonia vehicle and the Diesel VW that runs on waste frying oil guy keeps it up, it's going to smell like someone pissed on the french fries around here...
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Re: Ammonia as a Fuel?

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 14 Jul 2018, 16:16:01

KaiserJeep wrote:Ammonia is an extremely toxic and corrosive substance. It was once used as a refrigerant, but it killed a lot of people.


Straw man much?

Out here in the real world the farmers use copious quantities of anhydrous ammonia every year and it is shipped from manufacturing facilities to distribution nodes in pipelines designed to handle its 'corrosive' properties. I grew up with farm tanks of the stuff parked nearby every spring as have millions of other farm kids over the last 100 years.

Oh and for industrial purposes Ammonia is still used as a dirt cheap refrigerant. I suggest that with ammonia home refrigerators being powered by a gas or oil pilot light you probably had a lot more deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in enclosed structures than you did directly from ammonia toxicity. The kind used in home cooling systems for food products was diluted in water so you had two possibilities in the event of a piping failure, a big puddle of stinky water not unlike that used in cleaning products, or in the worse case a leak in the gas portion of low pressure ammonia gas that would make its presence known immediately from the massive stench that comes with it. Sure you might die if you breathed too much and it can sear your eyes of soft tissues of the mouth and airway if you hang out in the cloud, but if you air out your home as soon as you smell it the risk was minimal, certainly no worse that having a 250 gallon fuel oil tank in the basement powering your furnace. Ever seen what happens when a fuel oil tank pipe breaks and dumps a hundred gallons of fuel on the floor all around the operating firebox of the furnace? People should avoid unnecessary risks, but you have to store energy somehow and Ammonia is a fine choice to use.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby eclipse » Mon 21 Dec 2020, 22:07:05

I hear you Tanada - total strawman.

Those physicist and chemical engineering types tell us Ammonia is actually vastly easier to store long term and transport than hydrogen. Here's a more recent update on various global ammonia solutions being worked on - and it of course mentions some of the Australian research projects already mentioned above.

https://youtu.be/5Y_2Z_VwFNc

It will be interesting to see which technology wins the green race to long-haul trucking. Tesla's trucks are rumoured to have less cargo capacity, but are projected to be so cheap they might move this smaller cargo load cheaper. Then the salary equation kicks in for overall freight costs so we'll see where the marketplace rests on that equation longer term. But the fact that we have these various options is so encouraging compared to the "We're all gonna die when the trucks stop coming in!" mob mentality of peakoil doomers of years ago.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby dissident » Tue 22 Dec 2020, 01:31:41

The attack on NH3 as a fuel source is simply hysterical. The advantage of NH3 over H2 is that storing NH3 is vastly easier. H2 diffuses through metal and makes it brittle. Ammonia does nothing of the sort. Ammonia also does not require cryogenic or high pressure storage is just a volatile liquid at room temperature (like water).

With fuel cells there is no particular advantage of H2. Also fuel cells would convert the nitrogen in NH3 to inert N2 which is already 80% of the atmosphere. The fixation on H2 is that it can be burned in a primitive way. Maybe it is time to get off the internal combustion crack and bite the fuel cell bullet. Enough research has been done already and what is stopping the deployment is cost. Well, H2 handling is not going to be cheap. And if for some bizarre reason fuel cell devices cannot be deployed at the consumer scale, then generate electricity from NH3 in power plants.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 8517302320
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby REAL Green » Tue 22 Dec 2020, 05:50:05

dissident wrote:The attack on NH3 as a fuel source is simply hysterical.


I am excited about hydrogen and derivatives as an oversized niche energy vector, fuel and storage strategy but there are issues. One is the need for water in a water starved world. The other is cost of the whole lifecycle of green hydrogen. There are lots of steps involved including the whole zero-net thirty (2030) concept that involve huge cost and large carbon emissions from the buildout. If the energy transition zero net thirty (2030) is not a reality then the promise of hydrogen and its derivatives is an oversized niche. That being said there is a large place for hydrogen and its derivatives that can be employed immediately becuase economies of scale and innovation are sill being ramped up.

The reason I point to zero-net thirty as the transition and not zero-net fifty or more is I believe time is one of the greatest of variables. If this transition is not done quickly the economics and physics of a civilization coming apart will prevent such a build out. Unlike techno optimist I feel we are in an end game. I am allowing the possibility of a significant transformation but I feel a transition is a techno optimistic delusion. When I speak of transformation it would just be another bump in the curve of the graph of decline. This would be much like what shale did for the US PO graph, a retirement party! This renewable transformation is little more than a landing before the next step down instead of stepping down. I hope it will happen and I am playing my part by doing this transformation in my own small world of localism.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby eclipse » Tue 22 Dec 2020, 07:45:58

Solar Radiation Management can give us a few more decades on the climate front. You wouldn't want to try and alleviate all warming because the side-effects kick in bad at that point - like cancelling out the Monsoon rains in a freshwater strained world. But Dr David Keith says there's a sweet spot at half, and it's just so darn cheap that money isn't even an option.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby Subjectivist » Mon 28 Dec 2020, 13:53:09

dissident wrote:The attack on NH3 as a fuel source is simply hysterical. The advantage of NH3 over H2 is that storing NH3 is vastly easier. H2 diffuses through metal and makes it brittle. Ammonia does nothing of the sort. Ammonia also does not require cryogenic or high pressure storage is just a volatile liquid at room temperature (like water).

With fuel cells there is no particular advantage of H2. Also fuel cells would convert the nitrogen in NH3 to inert N2 which is already 80% of the atmosphere. The fixation on H2 is that it can be burned in a primitive way. Maybe it is time to get off the internal combustion crack and bite the fuel cell bullet. Enough research has been done already and what is stopping the deployment is cost. Well, H2 handling is not going to be cheap. And if for some bizarre reason fuel cell devices cannot be deployed at the consumer scale, then generate electricity from NH3 in power plants.


Given that as far back as the 1978 oil crash in the USA there were people demonstrating completely function ammonia burning cars where they had simply replaced the gasoline fuel system with an ammonia pressure tank and feed system the whole "It won't work" crowd lack a leg to stand upon. If we could do it 40+ years ago using mechanical linkage operated systems we can surely do it with modern systems more carefully controlled by computer operated valves and/or injector systems.

https://youtu.be/L0hBAz6MxC4
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby eclipse » Mon 28 Dec 2020, 18:31:18

Yeah, being non-technical myself it always amazes me what tinkerers and mechanics can get up to in garages. If there was a full scale nuclear war the hinterlands of many nations may have been spared direct blasts and have workshops. That's when we'd see the rise of a wood-gas powered agricultural sector and some transport at least. I'm not saying trees can replace oil in sheer abundance - but that trees can replace oil in a disaster scenario for the most urgent sectors. FEMA even has a manual on wood-gas. We're getting a little off topic - but this is my page where I collected a bunch of things we'd do in a real oil crisis. Wood gas is just one of them. Then there's my page on Rebuilding After the Apocalypse. Ever since I read "Footfall" and "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle it's been a favourite theme. I've always wondered where the story goes 10 years on, 20 years, 50 years. It was so good when my favourite Futurist Isaac Arthur covered the topic.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 28 Dec 2020, 20:02:06

eclipse wrote:Yeah, being non-technical myself it always amazes me what tinkerers and mechanics can get up to in garages. If there was a full scale nuclear war the hinterlands of many nations may have been spared direct blasts and have workshops. That's when we'd see the rise of a wood-gas powered agricultural sector and some transport at least. I'm not saying trees can replace oil in sheer abundance - but that trees can replace oil in a disaster scenario for the most urgent sectors. FEMA even has a manual on wood-gas. We're getting a little off topic - but this is my page where I collected a bunch of things we'd do in a real oil crisis. Wood gas is just one of them. Then there's my page on Rebuilding After the Apocalypse. Ever since I read "Footfall" and "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle it's been a favourite theme. I've always wondered where the story goes 10 years on, 20 years, 50 years. It was so good when my favourite Futurist Isaac Arthur covered the topic.
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Greer has two novels one set 500 years after the fall Stars Reach and one set around 2050 Retrotopia

Of the two of them I prefer Retrotopia because I found it to be far more realistic. However Stars Reach being set so far forward had a lot more room for speculation about how climate change will affect future civilization.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby eclipse » Mon 28 Dec 2020, 20:45:30

Yeah - maybe one year I'll read those as I do like an apocalyptic story. But I find Greer a bit too negative on the potential for technology. I=PAT means population and affluence and the wrong technology can all multiply out the environmental harm - but what if we start using the right technology? There are a bunch of low tech and high tech agricultural revolutions coming, from 3d seaweed and shellfish farms that could feed a world of 10 billion all the protein we need, through to bacterial 'ferming' replacing farming for many of our food needs. If that happens, we're talking about a second agricultural revolution, where deserts + solar panels + seawater = 'electric food' or ferming. And that's just food, not mild Solar Radiation Management to slow (NOT STOP!) climate change, not EV's, not the green ammonia of this thread (that Australia is planning to produce HUGE quantities of), not better New Urban cities in the first place!

There are so many things coming I see our future as a race between exponential feedback loops in climate systems breaking down and exponentially positive feedback loops in technology systems cleaning up! It's possible to imagine both huge continent wide areas of Mad Max breakdown occurring in some places and lasting decades, and Logan's Run styled futuristic arcologies spanning other areas.

This is a proposed $50 BILLION WASP (Wind and Solar Power) green hydrogen & ammonia plant being planned for Western Australia.
https://reneweconomy.com.au/huge-50bn-p ... tus-17416/
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby dissident » Tue 29 Dec 2020, 16:49:24

@Subjectivist

Thank you for the link. I totally missed that one.

I will put on my tin foil hat and conclude that the oil industry is a mafia that has the parasite politicians in its pocket. But I really do not need to wear a tin foil hat. This is a fact just as solid as the action of gravity keeping us attached to the surface of the planet. GM bought out the electric urban rail systems (tramways) back in the 1950s and shut them down so as to have its diesel buses take over. This was a clear racket in collusion with the oil industry. And the oil industry is run by the criminals like the ones at Exxon who have been a prime sponsor of global warming denial for decades. These people are freaks who do not tolerate any competition even if it means saving humanity.

The downside with NH3 internal combustion is that it generates NOx. The CBC piece did not cover this aspect but it is a big deal as we saw with the whole fiasco with Volkswagen diesel engines. In terms of health, my professional opinion is that spazzing over NOx and ignoring nanoparticle emissions is criminally retarded. GDI engines have lower NOx emissions but higher sub 100 nm particulate emissions. The regulators who fixate on NOx and O3 as regulatory pollutants ignore the impact of nanoparticle emissions. The often used PM2.5 metric is worthless since it measures the mass load. And most of the mass is in coarser particles. But those coarse particles are more easily filtered by the mucous membrane in the lungs than the ultra fine mode particulate which behaves almost like a gas and reaches unhindered into the alveoli and enters the blood stream. Thanks to the Kelvin curvature effect, very small particles shred through any cell wall. Once inside the blood stream these nanoparticles can pass the blood-brain barrier and also damage arterial walls.

There are laboratory studies where rats exposed to combinations of poor diet and aerosol pollutants developed different degrees of atherosclerosis. The worst cases by far involved aerosol exposure. So the routine line spewed in the public information space that heart disease is all about poor lifestyle choices is simply a lie. The reason why sitting in traffic is correlated with heart disease is not exclusively due to NOx exposure (which enters the blood stream and forms free radical solutes that also damage arterial walls).

And the cherry on top of the regulatory myopia turd cake is that fine mode aerosol is associated with the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), i.e. carcinogens. Inert soot emissions such as coronene are attacked by atmospheric radicals such as hydroxyl (OH) which directly spawns PAH daughter products. The chemical ageing process is complex and there are multiple generations of organic compounds formed in the atmosphere from various precursors.

The reason why the smaller soot particles are worse is because they are not coated as fast with sulfate. Measurements in the field where changes in the loading of coarser mode particles were reduced (e.g. public transit strikes) resulted in a shift in the population of aerosols to smaller sizes and a pronounced increase in PAH formation. So this is not just some speculation. Thanks to coagulation coarser precursor aerosol pollution mops up the finer particles. Given a choice I would rather breathe in the coarse aerosol than the "clean" fine mode that idiot regulators are "achieving".
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby Subjectivist » Tue 29 Dec 2020, 23:19:36

dissident wrote:@Subjectivist

Thank you for the link. I totally missed that one.

I will put on my tin foil hat and conclude that the oil industry is a mafia that has the parasite politicians in its pocket. But I really do not need to wear a tin foil hat. This is a fact just as solid as the action of gravity keeping us attached to the surface of the planet. GM bought out the electric urban rail systems (tramways) back in the 1950s and shut them down so as to have its diesel buses take over. This was a clear racket in collusion with the oil industry. And the oil industry is run by the criminals like the ones at Exxon who have been a prime sponsor of global warming denial for decades. These people are freaks who do not tolerate any competition even if it means saving humanity.

The downside with NH3 internal combustion is that it generates NOx. The CBC piece did not cover this aspect but it is a big deal as we saw with the whole fiasco with Volkswagen diesel engines. In terms of health, my professional opinion is that spazzing over NOx and ignoring nanoparticle emissions is criminally retarded. GDI engines have lower NOx emissions but higher sub 100 nm particulate emissions. The regulators who fixate on NOx and O3 as regulatory pollutants ignore the impact of nanoparticle emissions. The often used PM2.5 metric is worthless since it measures the mass load. And most of the mass is in coarser particles. But those coarse particles are more easily filtered by the mucous membrane in the lungs than the ultra fine mode particulate which behaves almost like a gas and reaches unhindered into the alveoli and enters the blood stream. Thanks to the Kelvin curvature effect, very small particles shred through any cell wall. Once inside the blood stream these nanoparticles can pass the blood-brain barrier and also damage arterial walls.


You are welcome.

No need to call it a conspiracy theory, not far from here there were two inter urban electric tram lines, one connecting Toledo, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan and a second connecting Toledo to Cleveland, Ohio. For the price of a ticket you could ride the two legs each about 70 miles in about 4 hours with IIRC 12 stops total counting Toledo as one stop where you switched lines. Around 1952 the lines were bought, the tram cars were scrapped and the rails were pulled up and sold for scrap steel. Later Detroit Edison (DTE) purchased the right of way that used to be the tracks and used it to install high tension lines extending 60 of the 70 miles from Detroit to the south. That was where their 'zone' ends and Consumers Power franchise zone takes over for the last 10 miles between the state line and the DTE zone. That last ten miles of right of way got merged into a highway widening project by the state of Michigan around the same time in 1974. One of the old rail bridges is still used for fishing by locals where it crosses Otter Creek about 6 miles north of the state line, it makes a nice lazy fishing spot if you don't have a boat to get to the deepest part of the creek in the middle.

If you don't know Toledo was a major ship yard for bulk freighters in the 10,000-27,000 class and is a major port for shipping Ohio grain out via the Saint Lawrence seaway even in 2020. Cleveland would take in iron ore from Wisconsin or the UP of Michigan plus Michigan limestone and Ohio coal and make steel which would then ship to Akron and Detroit for major manufacturers. Toledo was sort of the half way point between the major markets of Cleveland and Detroit and a lot of merchant marine sailors lived in this area until the crash around 1979 when iron production dropped and a lot of the mills and manufacturers went bankrupt. At one time there were over 1000 freighters working the Great lakes hauling raw materials to manufacturers and finished goods back out to distribution. Now almost all the shipping you see is from the big granaries at the Nabisco complex in Toledo. One of the ship yards did stay in business and does refits on freighters during the slack winter months. About 15 years ago a freighter set their course for the Monroe lighthouse on the GPS system and started reading their mail. The computer drove the freighter right where the GPS said hitting the concrete foundation of the light house bow on and doing a couple million dollars damage to the ship. It limped into the Toledo shipyard where it was repaired, made a big story hereabouts for a while.

Of course the lakes do not freeze nearly as often as they used to, up until about 1985 you could often find thick enough ice to drive snowmobiles all the way across the lack 50 miles or so to Canada which shut down shipping pretty hard. In 2020 this is the end of December and there is not a speck of ice on Lake Erie yet and the grass in most places is still green though not actively growing. In the 60's and 70's snow started falling in late November and by now all the rivers and creeks would have enough ice to safely go ice fishing. It took longer for the lake to freeze hard but by now it would have at least a skim of thin ice over vast patches of the surface and in a cold year like 1977 the lake ice would be the worlds biggest skating rink between Christmas and New Years when all the kids were on winter break and playing outside.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby dissident » Wed 30 Dec 2020, 00:56:35

Thank you for the local history. I find such information very interesting.

As for November onset of winter, in the Toronto area the first real snowfall would occur in the middle of November. Now it typically does not occur and winter feels like it starts two weeks later at least. This is supported by the summer to fall transition which has transformed early September into an extension of August. At the cottage which is about 3 hours to the north-east of Toronto, late August and early September frosts have simply disappeared. They were typical during the 1990s. So this climate change is not merely the adjustment after the 1970s cold anomaly (which resulted from the 1950s and 1960s aerosol pollution).

The 1950s highway insanity was not confined to the USA and afflicted Canada as well. All sorts of moronic projects to push highways into downtown cores in a ham-fisted manner were all the rage. In Toronto, the Gardiner Expressway sliced off the lake shore from the city in lots of parts. But near shore Lake Ontario water quality degraded so much afterwards that this was not seen as a big deal. The car culture is not compatible with dense urban development and we have progressive increase of congestion. This congestion pollutes the city and burns vast amounts of fuel without any net benefit. There are engine shutdown systems for stop lights, but these are not effective for crawling traffic. It would make more sense to have cars for remote travel and efficient public transit for moving around city cores.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby eclipse » Wed 30 Dec 2020, 02:36:06

How different would an ammonia car engine be? (Or should I say truck - as I'm really hoping they can get EV's down cheap enough for the car market and just use cheap solar PV + nuclear power directly.)

But ammonia trucking - what other side effects would there be if we waved a magic wand and America had enough Ammonia for all long-haul heavy trucking? (Be interesting to see how Tesla trucks stacked up against ammonia.)
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby Tanada » Wed 30 Dec 2020, 05:19:19

eclipse wrote:How different would an ammonia car engine be? (Or should I say truck - as I'm really hoping they can get EV's down cheap enough for the car market and just use cheap solar PV + nuclear power directly.)

But ammonia trucking - what other side effects would there be if we waved a magic wand and America had enough Ammonia for all long-haul heavy trucking? (Be interesting to see how Tesla trucks stacked up against ammonia.)


Roughly speaking on a volume basis Ammonia has 50% the energy density of gasoline and 45% the energy density of diesel so you need larger fuel tanks. Because ammonia puts out some NOx emissions you need a catalytic converter on the exhaust designed to deal with that pollution.

Other than those differences building the fuelling station infrastructure is necessary for any broad change. After that it is straight supply/demand to keep the trucks and/or cars running like before. Making ammonia via electrolysis and fscher-tropisch catalisys is very old technology at this point. Before WW II Norway made a good income making excess hydroelectricity into fertiliser for export.
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Re: THE Ammonia Fuel/Energy Storage Thread

Unread postby eclipse » Wed 30 Dec 2020, 18:50:46

Thanks. So bottom line, double the refuelling per distance but no effects on cargo load as with Tesla electric trucks. But the other variable is the extra expense of manufacturing ammonia with current technology (unless one of those breakthroughs listed above happens.) So maybe Tesla trucks have an economic advantage? IE: They don't carry the same cargo (roughly a third less?) but they carry it cheaper.
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