Green ammonia—underappreciated?

Posted: May 21, 2024

Green ammonia—underappreciated

Hydrogen is getting a lot of press lately as a potential alternative fuel source. But, attach some nitrogen to hydrogen and you’ve got ammonia—perhaps one of the world’s most underappreciated commodities. Nearly half the world depends on synthesized ammonia to fertilize crops and grow its food. But industrial ammonia synthesis accounts for about 2% of global CO2 emissions—more than the country of Germany.

Four fascinating ammonia facts 

  1. Nearly 80% of the nitrogen in your own body comes from industrial ammonia synthesis.
  2. Before Fritz Haber developed the process to synthesize ammonia, agriculture depended on guano fertilizer—which multiple countries went to war over in the 19th century.
  3. Ammonia also plays critical roles in industries as diverse as metal processing, semiconductors, refrigeration and power production.
  4. Ammonia is increasingly being explored as an alternative fuel.

That’s why pioneers like Dr. Zhenyu Zhang, one of Forbes 30 under 30, are working to decarbonize the ammonia-making process and create green ammonia without CO2 emissions. The latest episode of the podcast, Our Industrial Life, interviews Dr. Zhang and takes a look at the unexpectedly fascinating history, chemistry, and economics of ammonia.

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