Direct and efficient conversion of renewable ammonia to electricity

October 11th, 2023

R&D Focus Areas:
Ammonia, Electricity

Lead Organisation:

Monash University


Start date:
November 2018

Completion date:
Estimated June 2024, with possible extension up to August 2028.

Key contacts:
Lead Investigator Dr. Dattatray Dhawale –

AUD $1,326,965 – Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platform (HES FSP, CSIRO)

Project total cost:
AUD $1,326,965 + AUD $750, 736 – in-kind contribution

Project summary description:
Why is this project important?
The storage and transport of Renewable Energy (RE) is the biggest hurdle preventing deeper penetration of RE technologies into the energy market. Ammonia has emerged as a potential energy carrier candidate as technologies and standards for ammonia storage, handling and transportation are already available.

The project proposes the 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 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 is the project doing?
Leveraging CSIRO’s extensive experience in the development of fuel cells and electrolyser systems, world-class facilities for testing of ammonia fuel cell materials, cells and stacks up to 5 kW have been developed. The test rigs are automated and integrated with state-of-the-art diagnostic and electrochemical analysis tools for the in-depth understanding of cell electrochemistry, development, and evaluation of electrocatalysts. Using combinative development approaches, the project is studying the fundamental mechanism of materials degradation and ammonia reactions in SOFCs using both experimental and computation techniques. The project is collaborating with Monash University.

What is next?
The project’s outcome would be a scalable direct ammonia fuel cell (kW scale) demonstrating the viability of commercial ammonia-to-electricity systems and significantly broadening the hydrogen export market potential beyond that achievable by the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles alone. In the longer term, a successful ammonia fuel cell technology will provide a substantial boost to current efforts to make Australia a leading RE exporter.

Related publications and key links:

  • Ammonia to Power: Advancing Direct Ammonia Solid Oxide Fuel Cells through Experimental and Theoretical Studies (Small, Submitted, 2023).
  • Challenges and advancement in direct ammonia solid oxide fuel cells: A Review Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers (2023)
  • Evaluation of ((La60Sr0.40)0.95Co0.20Fe0.80O3-x)-Ag Composite Anode for Direct Ammonia Solid Oxide Fuel Cells and Effect of Pd Impregnation on the Electrochemical Performance, Solids 2 (2), 177-191, 2021.
  • Direct ammonia solid-oxide fuel cells: A review of progress and prospects, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 46 (71), 35365-35384. 2021.

Higher degree studies supported:
This project supports two Ph.D. students: one at Monash University, one at RMIT University.


October 2023