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Ammonia is synthesised by reacting hydrogen with nitrogen gas at high temperatures and pressures.


Technology

What is it?

An electric current is supplied to isolated nitrogenase enzymes, which reduce nitrogen gas and water to form ammonia, whilst also producing hydrogen.

Why is it important?

Haber-Bosch synthesis is a well-established industrial process that has been optimised for hydrogen production.

Characteristics

  • Volumetric hydrogen density: High (10.7kg H2 / m3 at 10 bar and 25°C)
  • Gravimetric hydrogen density: High (17.8% by mass)
  • Storage conditions: Liquid at ambient temperature, 10-11 bar pressure
  • Synthesis energy efficiency: Production of hydrogen via SMR paired with Haber-Bosch synthesis has an overall energy efficiency of approximately 61-66%

Benefits

  • Established industrial process

Limitations

  • High operating temperature and pressures, highly energy-intensive
  • Generates large amounts of carbon dioxide
  • Diminishing returns expected from improvements to this synthesis method

RD&D priorities

  • Improve catalyst development
  • Integrate with renewable sources of hydrogen

Known active organisations

  • The Australian National University
  • The University of New South Wales
  • The University of Western Australia

Other opportunities like this

  • Complex metal hydrides are salts in which the anion contains hydrides (negatively charged hydrogen atoms).

  • Hydrogen and nitrogen are reacted via the use of non-thermal plasma, which provides sufficient energy for reaction and conversion to ammonia.

Process group

Readiness Level

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