Ammonia for Fuel Cells: AFC, SOFC, and PEM

By Trevor Brown on October 25, 2018

In the last 12 months …

Click to enlarge. Michael Steffen, NH3 Event presentation, Non-Electrically Heated Ammonia Cracker Module for Fuel Cell Systems, May 2018.

IHI Corporation tested its 1 kW ammonia-fueled solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) in Japan; Project Alkammonia concluded its work on cracked-ammonia-fed alkaline fuel cells (AFC) in the EU; the University of Delaware’s project for low-temperature direct ammonia fuel cells (DAFC) continues with funding from the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E; and, in Israel, GenCell launched its commercial 4 kW ammonia-fed AFC with field demonstrations at up to 800 locations across Kenya.

And all of these ammonia power generation projects are in addition to the role of ammonia as a hydrogen carrier, lowering the delivered cost of hydrogen to the filling stations that will serve the global fleet of PEM fuel cell vehicles, about which we wrote last week.

Next year will hold more announcements and achievements, about these and other projects. In May 2019, Chemtronergy will complete another project funded under ARPA-E’s REFUEL program, Cost-effective, Intermediate-temperature Fuel Cell for Carbon-free Power Generation. This ammonia-fueled SOFC runs at a lower-than-usual temperature (650°C), and the team hopes to reduce system cost “using a combination of advanced materials discovery, reaction kinetics modeling, and 3D printing technology for large-scale rapid prototyping.”

If, like me, you pretend to understand the breadth of ammonia fuel cell technologies, I should warn you that a whole other type of fuel cell will soon be unveiled. In 2020, SAFCell will be concluding its ARPA-E funded project, Distributed Electrochemical Production and Conversion of Carbon-Neutral Ammonia. This is a solid acid fuel cell (SAFC) designed to produce power from ammonia. And the technology is reversible: it will also produce ammonia from power.

Ammonia Energy reporting on this topic since last year

A year in review

To mark the second anniversary of Ammonia Energy, we are reviewing the most important stories from the last 12 months. This “top ten” list spans two areas: five are significant advances that build on activities that were already underway in 2017, and five are new developments that emerged decisively this year.

Significant advances:

New developments: