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Is ammonia the next big hope in renewable fuels?

A U.S. company has just proven ammonia can be used to power agricultural vehicles, offering a sustainable, high-energy alternative to fossil-based power.

Brooklyn-based firm Amogy has announced its efforts to show that ammonia – a pungent-smelling, colourless gas – could soon offer a vast supply of high energy renewable fuel. 

green and white tractor on green grass field during daytime

Founded less than two years ago, the business has just announced its first major milestone, with a tractor successfully fuelled with ammonia after being fitted with a specially developed engine and driven on two separate occasions. 

‘We’re thrilled to be demonstrating our zero-emission ammonia power solution in action in a tractor for the first time ever. Ammonia is a viable zero-emission fuel for all heavy-duty vehicles, but especially farming and agriculture, where the readily-available chemical has been used as a fertilizer for decades,’ said Amogy CEO Seonghoon Woo in a press release. 

This isn’t the first time ammonia has been put forward as a solution to fuel and energy needs. In 2019, the UK fuel cell specialist AFC Energy revealed it had successfully integrated the gas with alkaline cells for hydrogen production, describing the process as ‘cracking’ ammonia to create hydrogen and in turn generate electricity. At the time the news was heralded as a huge step towards clean off-grid power.

Nevertheless, ammonia itself can have a detrimental impact on the environment, with emissions of the gas from agricultural activity a particular concern. Three years ago, the UK Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and Natural England launched a £3m fund to address the problem.

Image credit: Chris Ensminger

 

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