One of the world’s biggest ammonia producers in the world is preparing to ramp up its so-called “green ammonia” production. By using hydropower with its existing ammonia plant, Norway’s Yara is about to manufacture green ammonia commercially.
Last week, Yara announced its partnership with Aker Horizons and the Norwegian utility company Statkraft for producing green hydrogen at its plant in Porsgrunn, Norway. “Yara’s Porsgrunn plant is well set up for large-scale production and export, allowing Norway to quickly play a role in the hydrogen economy,” said Yara president and CEO Svein tore Holsether, as reported by Clean Technica. “Constructing a new ammonia plant and associated infrastructure is typically a capital-intensive process, but by utilizing Yara’s existing ammonia plant and associated infrastructure in Porsgrunn, valued at USD 450 million, the total capital requirement for the project is significantly reduced compared with alternative greenfield locations.”
The colorless, noxious gas is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen and is used to manufacture many common products. Ammonia occurs naturally in air, soil, animals and humans. When living bodies break down protein-containing foods, the parts separate into amino acids and ammonia, which is then converted into urea. If you’ve ever had a cat’s litter box in your house, you’re familiar with the smell of naturally occurring ammonia. Its most common industrial use is, fittingly enough, as fertilizer, accounting for about 90% of ammonia production. Other uses include as a refrigerant gas, in water purification and wastewater treatment, as a stabilizer and neutralizer in food and beverage industries and as part of pesticides, dyes, plastics and explosives.
Green ammonia is inextricably tied to the much-touted new green hydrogen economy. Because the availability of low-cost renewable energy has increased, the process of electrolysis — using an electric current in water to split off the hydrogen gas — has become more attainable. “Large-scale production will reduce cost of the electrolysis route,” Holsether explained. For hydrogen to be shipped worldwide, it first must be converted into ammonia. Yara has also been toying with the idea of building a ship that runs on ammonia fuel.
Image via Yara