The use of Nitrogen as a carrier for Hydrogen (i.e.: Ammonia) has been proposed before. While it has always been possible to do this it has not been viable economically. What has now changed is that the new pieces of technology when combined now make this not only economically feasible but give rise to very large economic savings, providing a much needed boost to our economies.
We now have access to very low cost Hydrogen (a prerequisite), a means of making Ammonia economically on site, leveraging our existing electrical grid and generation capacity and augmenting our existing renewable sources by about 30% without having to put a huge new infrastructure in place, a means of progressively rolling out the technology into existing vehicles, and an efficient engine design which can be used for real transportation, fertilizer and regeneration of electricity.
Ammonia is a compound containing one atom of Nitrogen and three atoms of Hydrogen (NH3). It dos not contain any Carbon. It does contain about 17% by weight of Hydrogen, which is much better than any other non-carbon based Hydrogen storage method. Industrially it is usually supplied as liquid at about 150 psi at ambient temperatures. Most people would be familiar with Ammonia in household cleaners which have been used for generations. If the pressure is released liquid Ammonia becomes a gas which is lighter than air. It does not freeze until -77 degrees C. It is the most widely use chemical on earth after hydrocarbons and we have been using it for over a century, so it has a well established track record and there are standards and protocols in place for its use.
Ammonia essentially only produces Nitrogen and Water vapor on combustion. It does not produce any Carbon Dioxide. It produces much lower levels of oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) than hydrocarbon fuels, and even that can be controlled by pre-catalyst injection. It can be made largely from renewable resources without investing in a huge new infrastructure. It costs much less than our existing fuels and can be blended for use in existing vehicles. It is safer than gasoline.Effectively it is a "here and now" solution to declining oil, global warming, vehicle generated smog in cities and our stagnating economies.
For a 10% Ammonia-Gasoline blend the expected saving per gallon is $0.21/gallon or 6% based on present gasoline prices of $3.50/gallon which includes taxation of $0.48/gallon. Vehicle range between refueling is essentially the same as for 10% ethanol blends and does not differ significantly from that for pure gasoline. Savings are far greater in Europe due to the much higher taxation on petroleum products.
For the US, this removes the need to use $32 Billion per year of petroleum product
For an 85% Ammonia-Gasoline blend the expected saving per gallon is $2.00/gallon or 57%. However the vehicle range with an existing engine and existing fuel tanks size is 55% of that on gasoline. Thus the equivalent fuel cost is $2.71 per gallon for the same vehicle range. Again, savings are far greater in Europe.
For the US this removes the need to use approximately $270 Billion per year of petroleum products.
Because Ammonia has a much higher Octane rating than gasoline, compression ratios (and therefore engine efficiency) may be significantly increased on existing engines thereby increasing their range.
An 85 % blend requires a special fuel tank: A tank that can withstand some internal pressure. This is preferably conformal, that is it fits into the where the existing fuel tank was located. It is of course possible to increase fuel tank size when replacing a tank.
Ammonia/Diesel blends are also possible and it is a simple process to replace the fuel tanks on big rigs, trains and ships.
Ethanol has a slightly higher energy content per gallon than Ammonia, which is approximately the same as for Methanol. Thus Ethanol fueled vehicles running 85% blends also require larger fuel tanks to maintain vehicle range.
Ammonia has a very much higher octane rating than gasoline and is more difficult to ignite in an engine. This shows up at low throttle when unless it is blended with gasoline or diesel it results in poor idle and low load performance.
Ammonia is much harder to ignite than petroleum based fuels. Unlike gasoline (NFPA Class IB) you cannot readily ignite liquid Ammonia (NFPA Class IIIB). It has a much higher Lower Explosion Limit in air than Gasoline, Diesel, Propane, Ethanol or Methanol, so it is harder to cause an explosion with Ammonia. Safety studies have been done which show that it is far safer than petroleum products.
Ammonia is much lighter than air and disperses readily. It is also very soluble in water.
Yes. Leaks, even very small ones can easily be detected. The NFPA limit for short term exposure to Ammonia is 35 ppm with a IDLH (immediately dangerous to life or health) limit of 300 ppm. Note that natural gas and LPG must have artificial odorants added for leak detection.
Vehicle fueling systems for Ammonia blends of 10% or more will use a special dispensing nozzle, similar to those used in Europe for LPG. These nozzles cannot discharge fuel unless they are locked in place. They are designed such that on removal of the nozzle there is virtually no release of fuel and there is a vacuum system to carry even that away.
Nothing. Just punch the fuel select button and fill up.
If you have a flex fuel vehicle you will need a fuel tank replacement and the engine control system will need a programming update so that it can recognize the fuel blends (as it does for ethanol right now).
If you have an earlier vehicle it will be necessary to make sure that liquid Ammonia cannot come into contact with any Aluminium, Copper, Brass or Zinc parts. Steel is fine
Diesel vehicles will also need a fuel tank upgrade. This is particularly easily done on big rigs, trains and ships.
It would be advantageous, but not required to increase the compression ratio to improve efficiency.
It takes approximately 19 years in the US to completely change the vehicle fleet, regardless of what technology you are changing to. Consequently it is very important to be able to introduce new technology on a progressive basis into our existing vehicle fleets. On a personal basis this means that you do not have to front up for the cost of a new vehicle immediately.
Blending of fuels means that you do not have to have any additional fuel tanks on board your vehicle. It also means that you do not have to be concerned about running out of any particular fuel and that you will be able to refuel at any location where any type of fuel is available.
Yes you can. It has been done since world war II. See these links:
Carbon Dioxide causes greater absorption of the energy from the sun and is widely viewed as being a major cause of Climate Change. Approximately 30% of Carbon Dioxide comes from motor vehicle exhausts and Carbon Dioxide emissions are at historically high levels and continue to increase. Since the Nitro-Hydrogen economy significantly reduces Carbon Dioxide from these sources, switching them to largely renewable carbon-free sources, it offers the prospect of not just stopping the increase in Carbon Dioxide emissions but actually reducing them.
Even when the electricity used to make Ammonia comes from fossil fueled power stations, we still benefit from the ability to use the more efficient, lower emission base load power stations more effectively and it also permits the possibility of sequestration of Carbon Dioxide at its source (which is not possible to achieve from geographically dispersed vehicle exhausts).
Smog is a type of air pollution derived from vehicle emissions and industrial fumes that react in the atmosphere with sunlight to form secondary pollutants that also combine with the primary emissions to form photochemical smog. It is present in all modern cities, but it is more common in cities with sunny, warm, dry climates and a large number of motor vehicles, such as Los Angeles, Beijing, Mexico City and the like. Because vehicles using Ammonia as a fuel emit no carbon particulates and greatly reduced amounts of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), two of the primary causes of smog, the Nitro-Hydrogen Economy allows us to significantly reduce smog.
Reduction in NOx occurs by three mechanisms: NOx reduction in diesel engines is presently obtained by injecting urea from a separate tank into the catalytic converter.Urea is used in SNCR and SCR reactions to reduce the NOx pollutants in exhaust gases from combustion from diesel, dual fuel, and lean-burn natural gas engines. The ammonia produced by the hydrolysis of the urea reacts with the nitrogen oxide emissions and is converted into nitrogen and water within the catalytic converter. Since we already have Ammonia available it is relatively simple to do this directly without the need for a second tank.
In the case of the electric engine, the period of time spent above the (approximate) 1600 Degree C threshold for causing NOx is only about 30% of that in conventional engines, so there is much less tendency for NOx to form. In addition, although not shown elsewhere on this site) it is possible to arrange the exhaust system to condense water vapor and since Oxides of Nitrogen are extremely soluble in water this also condenses them out as very dilute nitrous acid.
The electrical grid is always "balanced", that is the power that is put into it must also be taken out (it cannot store energy). Because of this the grid and the generation capacity must be sized to meet the expected peak load requirement, however the average load is approximately 22% less than the peak load. The Nitro-Hydrogen modules provide a very large load and one that does not have to be run 24/7 and can be controlled by the electric utility companies. This allows them to even out the load and run the grid system much closer to its full capacity, giving us a clear economic advantage.
This provision of storage capacity is particularly beneficial for wind and solar resources, as they tend to have power available when there is no demand for it and hence have to be idled. Large base load power stations, although they are more efficient, take a long time to bring on line. Consequently their use has to be carefully planned to ensure that they do not overload the grid. The Nitro-Hydrogen modules provide much greater flexibility in that regard. The efficiency of the electrical grid and generation system flows through to our overall industrial efficiency, so the Nitro-Hydrogen Economy has a positive influence there too.
The stored Ammonia can be used directly as fuel or fertilizer but can also be used to regenerate electricity. This can be done using existing gensets, but it is better to use the new engine designs to generate electricity directly. When these are used the electricity to electricity round trip efficiency is the same as for battery-electric and stored pumped hydro systems.