The road to future zero emissions demands a new form of ammonia production

May 25th 2021

ORACLE is a new global collaboration to examine new ways of producing green ammonia. The project has received EUR 2,8 million from the EU framework program for research and innovation, Horizon 2020. DIFFER is one of the partners of the project, headed by Aarhus University in Denmark. The program will run for three years, the kick-off was on 25 May 2021.

Ammonia is one of the most important chemicals manufactured globally. It is primarily used in the production of fertilisers for agriculture. The annual world production is approximately 235 million tonnes. The Haber-Bosch process, which was invented more than a century ago, is the primary production method. However, ammonia production is currently far from sustainable and carbon-free.

Scalable reactor technologies
Ammonia production costs 1.4 per cent of the world's entire energy consumption and annually it emits approximately 450 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - about 1 per cent of all anthropogenic carbon emissions and more than any other industrial chemical production.The grant from the EU framework program for research and innovation, Horizon 2020 will help the research teams of the global ORACLE collaboration to develop new technologies to produce green ammonia. The team at DIFFER, led by Mihalis Tsampas, will work on scalable reactor technologies for decentralized production of ammonia as a carbon-free renewable fuel synthesized from air and water powered by renewable electricity. Three strands of ammonia synthesis will be developed and validated: electro-catalytic, plasma-aided electrocatalytic and electrified thermal catalytic Haber-Bosch, the latter serving as benchmark.

“In the ORACLE project we want to explore DIFFER’s original approach on using plasma activation of molecular nitrogen to disruptively improve the selectivity of the fully renewable electricity driven production of ammonia from water and nitrogen using ionic conducting membranes," says Richard van de Sanden, group leader of DIFFER's Plasma Solar Fuels Devices research group. "ORACLE will enable us to investigate routes to improve the energy efficiency and to use the same approach to investigate the electrocatalytic production of ammonia from nitric oxide and hydrogen. If successful it will provide decentralized and modular solutions for green ammonia production in the future.”

ORACLE partners
The ORACLE project (Novel Routes and Catalysts for Synthesis of Ammonia as Alternative Renewable Fuel) officially kicked off on 25 May 2021. The project will run for three years. The project partners are: Aarhus University (coordinator), DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research), the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research in Belgium, Osaka Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, as well as the companies C2Cat (Netherlands) and Casale (Switzerland).

Source: based on a news item of Aarhus University by Jesper Bruun

More information
Let's talk about ammonia production - project page of Aarhus University
All electric green ammonia production - DIFFER news item (previous work at DIFFER on ammonia)

DIFFER groups involved
CEPEA - Mihalis Tsampas, Catalytic and Electrochemical Processes for Energy Applications
PSFD - Richard van de Sanden, Plasma Solar Fuels Devices

A new way of carbon-free production of ammonia, synthesized from air and water, powered by renewable energy.