Ammonia, the Fuel of the Future

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					                                                                                       ane liquefies at -162°C.) The emission
     W o r l d    T r e n d s        &      F o r e c a s t s                          byproduct is nitrogen, not carbon.
                                                                                       Nitrogen already comprises 78% of
                                                                                       the atmosphere, so mass emission of



Technology
                                                                                       nitrogen wouldn’t have the same cli-
                                                                                       mate-changing effects as mass emis-
                                                                                       sions of carbon or sulfur.
                                                                                          Ammonia could theoretically be
                                                                                       burned in a big, powerful fuel cell,
                                                                                       or even a big, powerful internal com-
Ammonia, the Fuel of the Future                                                        bustion engine, indoors where a CO2-
Hydrogen fuel cells could get a boost from an unexpected source.                       emitting engine would foul the air.
                                                                                       Like hydrogen, it’s lighter than air



W
                                                                                       and would dissipate in a leak —
           hat will your car run on in                                                 but unlike hydrogen, much less gas-
                                                         By J. Storrs Hall
           2020? Here’s a solution you                                                 oline, ammonia is not even combus-
           likely haven’t heard yet:                                                   tible under ordinary conditions.
ammonia. Sometimes called “the                                                            This solution is not without its
other hydrogen,” ammonia as a fuel            gave significant support to hydrogen     risks. Ammonia is a deadly chemical.
source would present the benefits of          fuel cell development and produc-        At 2,500 parts per million, exposure
hydrogen without the major difficul-          tion. Hydrogen is very light and         to ammonia causes laryngeal spasm
ties of handling. Despite its recent          fairly safe. Since it’s lighter than                   and rapid asphyxia,
reputation for impracticality, hydro-         air, it dissipates in a leak, rather
gen is still among the best fuels for         than forming an explo-                                         BEN MILLS / FORESIGHT INSTITUTE

clean, quiet, efficient fuel cells.           sive mixture.
   First, a look at the alternatives, the       Problemati-
most notable of which is gasoline.            cally, hydro-
The demise of petroleum has been              gen needs to
predicted early and often, so it              be stored at
would be foolish to dismiss it out of         very low tem-
hand. But climate concerns and scar-          peratures and
city of oil cast a cloud over its future.     high pres-
Not even the big oil companies seem           sures. It’s diffi-
to believe that i
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Sometimes called "the other hydrogen," ammonia as a fuel source would present the benefits of hydrogen without the major difficulties of handling. Despite its recent reputation for impracticality, hydrogen is still among the best fuels for clean, quiet, efficient fuel cells. Batteries are heavy and inefficient; much energy is lost during storage and the extraction process. Most current-day batteries, particularly the highest-tech ones, rely on materials that exist in limited quantity, which again presents a problem of scarcity. Ammonia could theoretically be burned in a big, powerful fuel cell, or even a big, powerful internal combustion engine, indoors where a CO2-emitting engine would foul the air.
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