Carbon-free power: Ammonia synthesized from renewable power and hydrogen

By Tetsuo Satoh |

A collaboration between JGC Corp. (JGC, Yokohama, Japan;, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the National Institute of Technology, Numazu College, and JGC’s subsidiary, JGC Catalysts & Chemicals Ltd., (JGC Group), under the auspices of the cross ministerial strategic innovation promotion program (SIP),“Energy Carriers,” announced that its joint study has resulted in the world’s first success in the synthesis of NH3 using H2 produced through the electrolysis of water by renewable energy, and generation of electricity through gas turbines fueled by synthesized NH3.

Last May, JGC Group achieved success in development of a new ruthenium catalyst supported by rare earth oxide (Ru/REO2), which is capable of efficiently synthesizing ammonia at a low (300–400°C) temperature and low pressure (5–8 MPa), which is far milder than the 400–500°C and 14–30 MPa used for an iron-based Haber-Bosch process. The REO-supported Ru catalyst is said to have “excellent stability” compared to Ru catalysts that utilize carbon-based carriers. JGC began operating a demonstration plant — located at Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute, AIST in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture — that is capable of producing 20 kg/d of NH3. Initial testing of the new catalyst used high-purity hydrogen from gas cylinders.

JGC Group has verified the ability of handling rapid changes in operational conditions when using renewable energy. Now, the group has replaced the bottled H2 supply with H2 generated by solar-powered water electrolysis to make ammonia, which then fueled a gas turbine to generate electric power (47 kW).

This is claimed to be the first time renewable H2 has been used to make NH3 that is subsequently used for CO2-free power generation. The achievement is a step toward the vision promoted by SIP Energy Carriers research of “Japan creating an innovative low-carbon, hydrogen-fueled economy and taking the lead in hydrogen-related industries on the world market” by the year 2030.

carbon-free power

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