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
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
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