Ammonia as energy vector
Hydrogen is often presented as an alternative as energy vector to tackle the environmental and health problems associated to distributed emissions in what is called the “hydrogen economy”. However, its implementation is currently limited by safety issues related to its flammability and storage limitations and a sustainable hydrogen supply capable of meeting society’s energy demand.
An attractive alternative from the economic and environmental point of view is the use of hydrogen-rich waste compounds as fuel feeds. Amongst them, ammonia from urea, farm waste, municipal waste steam, industrial waste, sustainable energy, etc., contains 17.6 wt.% hydrogen, well above the US Department of Energy target of 5.5 wt.% gravimetric capacity for a feasible energy vector.
Our work involves the study and development of the whole ammonia process from its generation using renewable sources or waste to its distribution using the already existing infrastructure, storage, and the final delivery of hydrogen in PEM fuel cells.
We are developing novel catalysts for the low temperature decomposition of ammonia by fundamental understanding of the ruthenium-based catalysts (which show the highest activity) for their replacement with readily available metals or alloys.
In collaboration with Prof Frank Marken (University of Bath) and Dr Kate Black (University of Liverpool), we are currently developing an integrated PEM fuel cell for the on-demand production of hydrogen from ammonia-rich compounds funded by EPSRC (Adventures in Energy).