Podcast

Ammonia: The beer of decarbonization

Low-carbon ammonia could help to decarbonize big parts of the economy, including shipping, heavy industry and even thermal power plants.

The Haber-Bosch process converts nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia, which is an essential ingredient in fertilizers and explosives. However, this process is responsible for up to 2 percent of global emissions.

Ammonia could become an essential fuel in a low-carbon future because it emits no carbon when combusted. We could use it in ships, heavy industry and even mixed with coal or gas in power plants.

So what are the barriers to using it as a low-carbon fuel? And why would you use it instead of hydrogen, which you already need to make ammonia?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Julio Friedmann, chief scientist at Carbon Direct. Julio and a team of colleagues just co-authored a report on low-carbon ammonia for the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum.

They cover topics including:

  • Why some countries such as Japan, Singapore and Korea are especially interested in developing ammonia infrastructure.
  • How ammonia compares to other low-carbon fuels like methanol and hydrogen.
  • How to retrofit coal and gas power plants to co-fire with ammonia.
  • Addressing ammonia’s corrosion and toxicity issues.
  • Areas that need more research, such as ammonia’s impact on air quality and radiative forcing.
  • Key constraints, including human capital and infrastructure.


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Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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