Liquid hydrogen carriers will play a significant role in diversifying Europe’s energy supply corridor, transporting hydrogen at scale (>1,000 tonnes of hydrogen transported per day), especially across larger distances. Low carbon footprint, high energy density and easy storage and transportation are important key factors for their application. Amongst all liquid hydrogen carriers, ammonia has proven itself as a carbon free and sustainable candidate and, very importantly, it presents advantages of a one-way transport, in fact, ammonia does not need to be directly recovered and recycled after the dehydrogenation step (to release hydrogen). Moreover, even if safety and toxicity concerns have been raised, ammonia has been produced industrially for over 75 years, with a large existing infrastructure and offtake. However, further studies to assess the large-scale potential of ammonia as a hydrogen carrier are needed and energy efficiency and environmental impacts have to be carefully addressed.
Ammonia synthesis can be performed close to centralised hydrogen production sites, but their dehydrogenation needs to be easily obtained locally for different applications after transportation. Many technical and economic challenges related to dehydrogenation step and sustainability need to be overcome.
In order to bring ammonia cracking to the next stage of maturity project results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Contribute to Europe technology leadership developing innovative reactors and catalysts for the dehydrogenation of ammonia as well as new integrated solution for heat management and hydrogen separation and purification;
- Reducing the use of critical raw materials in ammonia dehydrogenation reaction;
- Improving the economics of the ammonia dehydrogenation process;
- Develop new business models related to the use of hydrogen from ammonia for various applications, such as centralised and distributed power generation, shipping, heavy mobility, etc;
- Contributing to the understanding of Europe need in terms of infrastructure and regulation for the management of liquid hydrogen carriers;
- Foster the demonstration of the solutions developed in the project throughout Europe.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following objectives of the Clean Hydrogen JU SRIA: (especially for Pillar 2: Hydrogen storage and distribution – Sub Pillar: liquid H2 carriers):
- Develop a range of hydrogen carriers that will be used commercially to transport and store hydrogen while improving their roundtrip efficiency and lowering their cost;
- Contribute to the SRIA KPIs on hydrogen carrier delivery cost, for 3000km ship transfer (Targets: 2024 = 2.5 €/kg, 2030 = <2€/kg);
- Contribute to the SRIA KPIs on hydrogen carrier specific energy consumption (Targets: 2024 = 17kWh input/kgH2 recovered, 2030 = 12 kWh input/kgH2 recovered). This figure encompasses the energy consumption for the production of ammonia from hydrogen, for which the project shall retrieve the value from the state of the art.
State of the art systems for H2 recovery from ammonia require reaction units and catalysts operating at high temperatures (550-800°C) for complete ammonia conversion and are principally based on fired and heat transfer limited cracker design. The application of heat sources to deliver the required thermal energy is a restricting challenge for ammonia as a reliable Hydrogen carrier. Moreover, components thermal losses, power consumed by pumps, and loss of hydrogen due to imperfect recovery in conventional separation and purification section represent other important issues to address for the next generation ammonia dehydrogenation plants. In this regard, proposals should contain a set of principles applied in catalyst and reactor design, which can bring significant benefits in terms of process intensification and chain efficiency, lower capital and operating expenses, higher quality of products, less waste and improved process safety. Therefore, it is of interest to develop and demonstrate, at prototype scale, low-cost catalysts and integrated reactors that can deliver hydrogen at a high rate per volume from ammonia dehydrogenation at relatively low temperatures and high conversion so that zero-carbon pure hydrogen can be transported at long distances.
More in detail proposals should include:
- Development of catalyst (CRMs free catalysts or reduction of CRMs use should be considered) and reactor for the ammonia dehydrogenation at lower temperature compared to state of the art, capable to:
- ensuring the highest possible ammonia conversion (>98%) reducing the downstream cleaning/recycling steps;
- improving the overall thermal efficiency of the ammonia dehydrogenation step;
- providing high reliability, ease of operation, and cost-effectiveness to hydrogen production.
- A demonstration system, running for at least 500 hours and producing at least 10 kg H2/day at atmospheric pressure;
- Demonstration of hydrogen fuel quality (according to ISO 14687:2019) from dehydrogenation of the liquid hydrogen carrier in relevant conditions;
- Demonstration of Scalability of the developed system to large-scale production (equivalent to the 100 tH2/day) for long distance transportation;
- A Life Cycle Assessment of the developed system in the frame of the whole supply chain: ammonia inventory and make-up, (de)hydrogenation steps, temporary storage, shipping, CRM net consumption, etc;
- Techno-economic analysis for the scalability of the developed system to large-scale production for long distance transportation, i.e. 1000 t H2/day, including centralised hydrogenation plant, storage, shipping and distributed dehydrogenation plants.
In order for the proposal to reach the expected outcome, the deliverables should be disseminated at the end of the proposal to the hydrogen mobility and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure sectors and relevant working groups of the standardisation technical committee’s such as ISO TC 197, CEN TC 268, including the hydrogen purity standard ISO14687 and EN17124, related to hydrogen fuel sampling.
Proposals are expected to address sustainability and circularity aspects.
20 September 2022
For further information: Funding & tenders