Direct production of ammonia as a hydrogen carrier

Jupiter Ionics research case study

Ammonia has become prominent as a possible liquid carrier of hydrogen, as its large-scale transportation by bulk carrier and pipeline is well established.

While ammonia is usually produced by combining nitrogen and hydrogen in the Haber-Bosch process, Jupiter Ionics Pty Ltd is using technology developed at Monash University for the direct electrolytic production of ammonia using water, nitrogen from the air, and energy.

The technology is similar to water electrolysis to produce hydrogen, but with different catalysts and electrolytes.  Recent work has demonstrated that the process can be 100 per cent selective in its generation of ammonia. Jupiter Ionics is the only group globally to have achieved this milestone.  

Jupiter Ionics is now scaling up their ammonia-producing electrolyser technology for demonstration at the megawatt scale.

Photo courtesy of Jupiter Ionics

Jupiter Ionics is now scaling up its electrolyser technology for demonstration at the megawatt scale.

A key advantage of this process is its ability to cycle on and off in response to fluctuating supply of energy. The technology could be installed on a highly distributed scale, for example at individual wind or solar farms. This would provide a means of absorbing excess renewable energy into a high value product, or providing a smoothing mechanism on the minutes to days time scale.

This approach to distributed ammonia production is also relevant to the agricultural sector, because ammonia is currently the main source of industrially produced fertilisers. The ability to replace natural gas as the source of these fertilisers and install the production facilities on a highly distributed scale is of strong interest to the farming sector both in terms of security of supply, as well as providing green inputs to farming.

Case study date: January 2024

HyResearch record: Modular ammonia manufacturing via a breakthrough carbon-free process