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What is it?

Ammonia is synthesised directly from steam and nitrogen in a solid oxide electrolysis cell at elevated temperatures.

Why is it important?

Ammonia can be synthesised directly from water and nitrogen, without requiring a precursory hydrogen production step. This reduces system complexity and could yield energy savings.


  • 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


  • Single reactor means reduced system complexity and lower associated capital costs
  • Allows integration of waste heat streams, reducing the required energy input
  • Makes use of carbon dioxide as a process input


  • Balancing reactor temperature is a challenge. Ammonia product decomposition occurs at typical solid oxide cell operating temperature

RD&D priorities

  • Improve catalyst selectivity
  • Develop cell designs and electrolytes capable of operating at thermodynamically favourable conditions
  • Understand fundamental reaction mechanisms

Known active organisations

  • No active institutions found in study

Other opportunities like this

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

  • Hydrogen is reacted with toluene to form methylcyclohexane (MCH), a compound that can be transported at ambient temperature and pressure.

  • Methanol is conventionally synthesised at large scale from synthesis gas (or syngas), a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide typically at an H₂/CO ratio of 1.8 ~ 2.2, derived through steam reforming of natural gas or steam gasification of coal.

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