Ammonia Fuel Cells Project

Why we are doing this?

The storage and transport of Renewable Energy (RE) is by far the biggest hurdle preventing deeper penetration of RE technologies into the energy market. Ammonia has emerged as a potential candidate as technologies and standards for ammonia storage, handling and transportation are already available. There are commercial initiatives in this space, one of notables is Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in Western Australia, which is a 26 GW wind-solar power generation plant facilitating export of RE in form of green ammonia.

The project proposes use of ammonia-fed low to intermediate temperature solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) to convert ammonia into electricity in a single step without a need for external ammonia cracking. The technology offers the highest round-trip electric and thermal efficiency (> 50%) amongst all known technologies for ammonia utilisation. Despite efficiency advantages, low to intermediate temperature SOFCs have not been studied extensively and materials specifically tailored for efficient ammonia utilisation have not yet been established for sub 600°C operation.

The development of a such an efficient, modular, and scalable device which can convert ammonia directly into electricity will lead to a substantial increase in the round-trip efficiency in ammonia based renewable energy supply chain and enable the production of carbon free electricity at locations that are lean in renewables.

 

What we are doing?

Leveraging CSIRO’s 30 years of experience in development of fuel cells and electrolyser systems, we have setup world class facilities for testing of ammonia fuel cell materials, cells and stacks up to 5 kW. Our test rigs are automated and integrated with state-of-the-art diagnostic and electrochemical analysis tools for in-depth understanding of cell electrochemistry, development, and evaluation of electrocatalysts. Using combinative development approaches, we are studying fundamental mechanism of materials degradation and ammonia reactions in SOFCs using both experimental and computation techniques. We are collaborating with Prof. Scott Barnett’s group at Northwestern University in USA for the development of new fuel electrode chemistry and 3D Tomography studies on solid oxide electrodes.

 

What we will do next?

The outcome of project would be a scalable ammonia fuel-cell demonstrating the viability of commercial ammonia-to-power systems and significantly broadening the hydrogen export market potential to beyond that achievable by the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles alone. A positive outcome will provide a promising value proposition for early stage investors and government bodies. In longer term, a successful ammonia fuel cells technology will provide a substantial boost to current efforts to make Australia a leading RE exporter.

 

For more information, please contact Ani.Kulkarni@csiro.au