As the world continues to shift towards decarbonization in chemical production, and strong market demand drives the transition to carbon-free energies, ammonia’s role in the green energy economy continues to expand. Best known for its traditional role in fertilizer production, ammonia is gaining attention in other applications.
A gas at room temperature, ammonia is incredibly stable and can be easily liquified for storage and shipment around the globe in the same fashion as liquefied natural gas (LNG). It can be used across energy-intensive industries in several ways, helping to lower our carbon footprint.
- Made up of one nitrogen and three hydrogen atoms, ammonia can also be decomposed or “cracked” to produce hydrogen along with nitrogen, a non-toxic, non-greenhouse gas.
- Ammonia produced from renewable energy (“green ammonia”) can serve as an energy storage medium, able to store electricity during high periods of production and transport that energy to parts of the globe with limited access to renewable energy sources.
- Ammonia can be burned directly as a carbon emissions-free energy source, thanks to the development of new technologies that produce ammonia from renewable energy or reforming of methane with CO2 capture.
Ammonia can also offer new possibilities when it comes to facilitating the use of hydrogen, which is emerging as a low-carbon breakthrough that promises to transform the power generation market.
Ammonia-ready storage and transportation infrastructure will be a catalyst for making ammonia a key player in the zero-carbon energy landscape.
An industry leader, Black & Veatch has more than 80 years of experience in the commercial ammonia and LNG infrastructure market, backed by a proven record of executing large-scale infrastructure projects safely, on time and on budget, and to the highest quality standards with minimal disruptions to operations.
Black & Veatch helps clients at every stage of the process de-risk investments and scale solutions that meet budget constraints, expectations for return on investments and navigate complex regulations.
Ammonia a Key Player in the Hydrogen Revolution
Backed by new advances in technology, hydrogen is expected to rise in prominence over the next decade.
However, fully integrating hydrogen into the energy mix will be a complicated endeavor, as the low volumetric energy density of hydrogen – and its extremely low boiling point – have made it challenging, both technically and economically, to develop infrastructure for the large-scale storage and transportation of hydrogen.
But ammonia offers several desirable characteristics as a hydrogen carrier:
First, ammonia can be liquefied under mild conditions. The boiling point of ammonia at atmospheric pressure is -33°C (-28°F), similar to propane. Ammonia has been produced for industrial and agricultural purposes, and proven methods of storing and transporting liquefied ammonia at scale are available.
Second, ammonia is more energy dense than hydrogen. The volumetric hydrogen density of liquid ammonia is about 45-percent higher than that of liquid hydrogen, which means that more hydrogen can be stored in liquid ammonia compared to liquid hydrogen with the same volume.
The supply chain for ammonia is currently underway, and now is the time to consider using the world’s extensive LNG infrastructure – its existing LNG receiving terminals and storage facilities – to facilitate the safe, efficient transport of ammonia.
LNG Infrastructure Offers Opportunity
LNG has been used as an energy source for more than 50 years, due to its reputation as the cleanest fossil fuel as well as its ability to balance out the power generation mix. This has led to widespread investment in LNG storage and transportation infrastructure.
According to the 2020 International Gas Union (IGU) World LNG Report, the global supply chain for LNG has matured with LNG receiving terminals (global nominal regasification capacity of 826 metric tons per annum [MTPA]), LNG liquefaction terminals (global liquefaction capacity of 430 MTPA), and LNG tankers (global fleet of 541 active vessels). As of February 2020, the worldwide storage tank capacity for LNG has grown to 65 million cubic meters (m3), with nearly two-thirds of that capacity housed in Japan, Korea and China.
With this extensive global infrastructure in place, LNG receiving terminals and storage facilities can be modified to facilitate the safe, efficient transport of ammonia in the global energy trade. As such, LNG and gas power plant owners and developers would be well-served to begin preparing now for their LNG receiving terminals to become ammonia-ready, and to receive liquefied ammonia when needed as renewable energy production continues to increase.
This free download, Hybrid LNG & Ammonia Infrastructure Support a Green Economy, addresses how to convert LNG import terminals and storage tanks to handle ammonia, as well as how to design these facilities to be ammonia-ready.
Explore the eBook
Converting LNG Import Terminals to Ammonia Import Terminals
This section discusses the optimum design for converting an LNG import facility to an ammonia storage, regasification and send-out facility with minimum required modification.
Converting LNG Storage Tanks to Ammonia Storage Tanks
This section discusses the optimum conversion of existing LNG storage tanks to ammonia storage tanks.
Designing Ammonia-Ready LNG Import Terminals
This section discusses how the LNG import facility can be designed to be ammonia-ready with minimum required modification.
Designing Ammonia-Ready LNG Storage Tanks
This section discusses the optimum design for ammonia-ready LNG storage tanks.
Coming January 5th, 2021