Potential Economic Feasibility of Direct Electrochemical Nitrogen Reduction as a Route to Ammonia

Gal Hochman, Alan S. Goldman, Frank Felder, James M. Mayer, Alexander J.M. Miller, Patrick L. Holland, Leo A. Goldman, Patricia Manocha, Ze Song, Saketh Aleti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Haber-Bosch process produces ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases in a globally important energy-intensive process that uses coal or natural gas as a fuel and hydrogen source. Direct electrochemical ammonia synthesis from nitrogen and water using renewable energy sources presents an alternative to the Haber-Bosch process that would be more sustainable. Additionally, the different production structure of direct electrochemical nitrogen reduction technology suggests a supply chain alternative to the ammonia industry and a method for load leveling of the electrical grid. This alternative route to ammonia from dinitrogen would require smaller capital investments than the Haber-Bosch process and would not require a fossil fuel supply. The impact of dynamic electrical power pricing is analyzed for a system that could take advantage of pricing volatility. We show that, under certain scenarios, at achievable levels of energy efficiency with a future electrocatalyst, direct nitrogen reduction would be economically competitive or advantageous compared with Haber-Bosch-based ammonia production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8938-8948
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Volume8
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 22 2020

Keywords

  • ammonia
  • dynamic electricity pricing
  • electrochemical nitrogen reduction
  • sustainable fertilizer production
  • sustainable nitrogen fixation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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  • Cite this

    Hochman, G., Goldman, A. S., Felder, F., Mayer, J. M., Miller, A. J. M., Holland, P. L., Goldman, L. A., Manocha, P., Song, Z., & Aleti, S. (2020). Potential Economic Feasibility of Direct Electrochemical Nitrogen Reduction as a Route to Ammonia. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 8(24), 8938-8948. https://doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c01206