skip to main content


Title: Green ammonia from air, water, and renewable electricity: Energy costs using natural gas reforming, solid oxide electrolysis, liquid water electrolysis, chemical looping, or a Haber–Bosch loop
The purpose of this work is to quantitatively compare the energy cost of design alternatives for a process to produce ammonia (NH 3 ) from air, water, and renewable electricity. It is assumed that a Haber–Bosch (H–B) synthesis loop is available to produce 1000 metric tons (tonnes) of renewable NH 3 per day. The overall energy costs per tonne of NH 3 will then be estimated at U.S.$195, 197, 158, and 179 per tonne of NH 3 when H 2 is supplied by (i) natural gas reforming (reference), (ii) liquid phase electrolysis, (iii) solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) of water only, and (iv) simultaneous SOE of water and air. A renewable electricity price of U.S.$0.02 per kWh electric , and U.S.$6 per 10 6 BTU for natural gas is assumed. SOE provides some energy cost advantage but incurs the inherent risk of an emerging process. The last consideration is replacement of the H–B loop with atmospheric pressure chemical looping for ammonia synthesis (CLAS) combined with SOE for water electrolysis, and separately oxygen removal from air to provide N 2 , with energy costs of U.S.$153 per tonne of NH 3 . Overall, the most significant findings are (i) the energy costs are not substantially different for the alternatives investigated here and (ii) the direct SOE of a mixture of steam and air, followed by a H.–B. synthesis loop, or SOE to provide H 2 and N 2 separately, followed by CLAS may be attractive for small scale production, modular systems, remote locations, or stranded electricity resources with the primary motivation being process simplification rather than significantly lower energy cost.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1856084
NSF-PAR ID:
10403371
Author(s) / Creator(s):
;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Volume:
14
Issue:
5
ISSN:
1941-7012
Page Range / eLocation ID:
054701
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Hydrogen gas (H2) is the primary storable fuel for pollution‐free energy production, with over 90 million tonnes used globally per year. More than 95% of H2is synthesized through metal‐catalyzed steam methane reforming that produces 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per tonne H2. “Green H2” from water electrolysis using renewable energy evolves no CO2, but costs 2–3× more, making it presently economically unviable. Here catalyst‐free conversion of waste plastic into clean H2along with high purity graphene is reported. The scalable procedure evolves no CO2when deconstructing polyolefins and produces H2in purities up to 94% at high mass yields. The sale of graphene byproduct at just 5% of its current value yields H2production at a negative cost. Life‐cycle assessment demonstrates a 39–84% reduction in emissions compared to other H2production methods, suggesting the flash H2process to be an economically viable, clean H2production route.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Affordable synthetic ammonia (NH3) enables the production of nearly half of the food we eat and is emerging as a renewable energy carrier. Sodium‐promoted chemical looping NH3synthesis at atmospheric pressure using manganese (Mn) is here demonstrated. The looping process may be advantageous when inexpensive renewable hydrogen from electrolysis is available. Avoiding the high pressure of the Haber‐Bosch process by chemical looping using earth‐abundant materials may reduce capital cost, facilitate intermittent operation, and allow operation in geographic areas where infrastructure is less sophisticated. At this early stage, the data suggest that 0.28 m3of a 50 % porosity solid Mn bed may suffice to produce 100 kg NH3per day by chemical looping, with abundant opportunities for improvement.

     
    more » « less
  3. Electrocatalytic upgrading of biomass-derived feedstocks driven by renewable electricity offers a greener way to reduce the global carbon footprint associated with the production of value-added chemicals. Paired electrolysis is an emerging platform for cogenerating high-valued chemicals from both the cathode and anode, potentially powered by renewable electricity from wind or solar sources. By pairing with an anodic biomass oxidation upgrading reaction, the elimination of the sluggish and less valuable water oxidation increases flow cell productivity and efficiency. In this presentation, we report our research progress on paired electrolsysis of HMF to production of higher valued chemicals in electrochemical flow cells. We first prepared an oxide-derived Ag (OD-Ag) electrode with high activity and up to 98.2% selectivity for the ECH of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF) to 2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)furan (BHMF), and such efficient conversion was achieved in a three-electrode flow cell. The excellent BHMF selectivity was maintained over a broad potential range with long-term operational stability. In HMF-to-BHMF paired with 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine 1-oxyl (TEMPO)-mediated HMF-to-FDCA conversion, a markedly reduced cell voltage from ~7.5 V to ~2.0 V was observed by transferring the electrolysis from the H-type cell to the flow cell, corresponding to more than four-fold increase in energy efficiency in operation at 10 mA. A combined faradaic efficiency of 163% was obtained to BHMF and FDCA. Alternatively, the anodic hydrogen oxidation reaction on platinum further reduced the cell voltage to only ~0.85 V at 10 mA. Next, we have demonstrated membrane electrode assembly (MEA)-based flow cells for the paired electrolysis of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF) paired electrolysis to bis(hydroxymethyl)furan (BHMF) and 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). In this work, the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) was substituted by TEMPO-mediated HMF oxidation, dropping the cell voltage was from 1.4 V to 0.7 V at a current density of 1.0 mA cm−2. A minimized cell voltage of ~1.5 V for a continuous 24 h co-electrolysis of HMF was then achieved at the current density of 2 mA cm−2(constant current of 10 mA), leading to the highest combined faradaic efficiency (FE) of 139% for HMF-to-BHMF and HMF-to-FDCA. A NiFe oxide catalyst on carbon cloth further replaced the anodic TEMPO mediator for HMF paired electrolysis in a pH-asymmetric flow cell. We envision renewable electrical energy can potentially drive the whole process, thus providing a sustainable avenue towards distributed, scalable, and energy-efficient electrosynthesis. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Electrocatalytic upgrading of biomass-derived feedstocks driven by renewable electricity offers a greener way to reduce the global carbon footprint associated with the production of value-added chemicals. In this respect, a key strategy is the electrocatalytic hydrogenation (ECH) reaction, which is typically paired with the anodic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) with sluggish kinetics, producing O 2 with little value. Here we prepared an oxide-derived Ag (OD-Ag) electrode with high activity and up to 98.2% selectivity for the ECH of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF) to 2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)furan (BHMF), and such efficient conversion was achieved in a three-electrode flow cell. The excellent BHMF selectivity was maintained over a broad potential range with long-term operational stability. We then considered the oxidation of HMF to 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and hydrogen (to water) as more efficient and productive alternatives to the OER. In HMF-to-BHMF paired with 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine 1-oxyl (TEMPO)-mediated HMF-to-FDCA conversion, a markedly reduced cell voltage from ∼7.5 V to ∼2.0 V was observed by transferring the electrolysis from the H-type cell to the flow cell, corresponding to more than four-fold increase in energy efficiency in operation at 10 mA. A combined faradaic efficiency of 163% was obtained for BHMF and FDCA. Alternatively, the anodic hydrogen oxidation reaction on platinum further reduced the cell voltage to only ∼0.85 V at 10 mA. These paired processes show the potential for integration of renewable electricity and carbon for green and economically feasible distributed chemical manufacturing. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    The decreasing cost of electricity produced using solar and wind and the need to avoid CO 2 emissions from fossil fuels has heightened interest in hydrogen gas production by water electrolysis. Offshore and coastal hydrogen gas production using seawater and renewable electricity is of particular interest, but it is currently economically infeasible due to the high costs of ion exchange membranes and the need to desalinate seawater in existing electrolyzer designs. A new approach is described here that uses relatively inexpensive commercially available membranes developed for reverse osmosis (RO) to selectively transport favorable ions. In an applied electric field, RO membranes have a substantial capacity for proton and hydroxide transport through the active layer while excluding salt anions and cations. A perchlorate salt was used to provide an inert and contained anolyte, with charge balanced by proton and hydroxide ion flow across the RO membrane. Synthetic seawater (NaCl) was used as the catholyte, where it provided continuous hydrogen gas evolution. The RO membrane resistance was 21.7 ± 3.5 Ω cm 2 in 1 M NaCl and the voltages needed to split water in a model electrolysis cell at current densities of 10–40 mA cm −2 were comparable to those found when using two commonly used, more expensive ion exchange membranes. 
    more » « less