The Siemens Green Ammonia Demonstrator brings together, in a single site, all the technologies required to demonstrate the complete ammonia energy cycle. The project helps people better understand the potential of ammonia for the rapid deployment of a bulk, carbon-free hydrogen network.
Based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK and created in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the University of Oxford and Cardiff University, the system uses water electrolysis to provide a hydrogen supply and extracts nitrogen from the air. The system combines these two elements in the well-established Haber-Bosch process to make ammonia which can be used as a new form of energy storage. When burned, ammonia turns back into nitrogen and water, and does not produce the CO2 emissions associated with fossil fuels.
Public support for hydrogen-based fuels
With Government commitments to meet net zero emissions targets, new carbon free fuels such as green ammonia and green hydrogen will be needed to decarbonise energy generation, heat and transport and industry.
Recent Siemens research has shown the public want to see even bolder steps taken in the move to clean energy sources. Nearly one-third of UK adults (32%) insist the Government should be most responsible for supporting renewable energy usage in the UK. Notably, the study found that younger consumers are far more knowledgeable about hydrogen power and are more open to this as a new source of energy. Nearly one-third (30%) of millennials and 22% of Generation Z already know a lot about hydrogen energy, compared to only 3% of baby boomers.
The Green Ammonia demonstration programme
How does it work?
Ammonia is produced in vast quantities worldwide for agricultural fertilisers but uses natural gas or other fossil fuels to provide both the hydrogen feedstock and the energy to power the synthesis process. As a result, ammonia production by these methods releases almost 1.5% of global CO₂ emissions.
The demonstrator shows that not only could this process be used to dramatically reduce emissions from the current production methods, but that ammonia can also be a practical hydrogen energy vector, further reducing CO₂ emissions by allowing for storage at scale.
The Clean, Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell System
Ammonia can be used as a practical hydrogen energy vector and its pre-existing industry which already produces, stores, and trades millions of tonnes of ammonia every year, means the infrastructure already exists to kick-start the hydrogen economy.
As a first step towards a commercially viable green hydrogen economy in the UK, Siemens’ leveraged its presence at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed to create and showcase a grid-independent and scalable charging system for electric vehicles, with partners GeoPura.
Powered by green hydrogen, which is hydrogen produced by renewable power, the system converted hydrogen back into electricity to charge the electric vehicles in the supercar paddock. This shows that electric vehicle charging around the world can be delivered in this way, making a drastic impact on reducing harmful emissions and driving the uptake of electric vehicles.
Following the success at Goodwood, Siemens and GeoPura provided the first commercial application of this technology at the European test drive of the Polestar 1 in November 2019. This application represents an early commercial proposition for hydrogen, with the potential for the hydrogen to be stored and transported as ammonia.