Life-cycle greenhouse gas and energy balance of community-scale wind powered ammonia production

Joel Tallaksen* (1), Fredric Bauer (2), Christian Hulteberg (2), Michael Reese (1), and Serina Ahlgren (3)
(1) West Central Research & Outreach Center, University of Minnesota
(2) Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, Sweden,
(3) Department of Energy and Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

11th Annual NH3 Fuel Conference, September 23, 2014

Abstract

As well as being an innovative energy source, ammonia is a crucial component of most nitrogen fertilizers. Since the production of ammonia is very energy intensive and currently completely based on fossil energy, there is a considerable interest in developing renewably produced ammonia for use in agriculture and other sectors. This work presents a life cycle assessment (cradle-to-gate) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and primary energy use for ammonia produced at community-scale using renewable wind generated electricity. Two different regions were studied: Minnesota (US) and Sweden. The results show that ammonia produced with wind-generated electricity has significantly lower fossil energy use and associated GHG emissions than conventionally produced ammonia. However, the system is partially reliant on power from the grid due to the intermittency of the wind resource. The environmental metrics analyzed were significantly influenced by technologies producing that background grid power. In Minnesota’s coal dependent grid system, the reductions in primary fossil energy use and GHG emissions when using the renewable production system are not as significant as in the hydropower and nuclear reliant Swedish systems. In a scenario where 25% of electricity is purchased from the Minnesota grid, emissions were even higher than the reference natural gas based ammonia. The current dependence of the renewable ammonia production system on the background grid system makes it crucial to study in detail how the ammonia production process is integrated in the regional energy system. Optimizing the ammonia production system to use less grid power would further reduce fossil energy use and GHG emissions. This would be especially important in ammonia fertilizer consuming regions, such as Minnesota, that heavily rely on fossil fuels in their electrical production grids.

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Related Projects

University of Minnesota, Wind-to-Ammonia

Related NH3 Fuel Conference Papers

2013: Production of Ammonia and Nitrogen Fertilizers based on Biomass
2013: Ammonia Production Using Wind Energy
2012: Lessons Learned in Developing a Wind-to-Ammonia Pilot Plant [PDF]
2011: Production of Anhydrous Ammonia from Wind Energy — Anatomy of a Pilot Plant, The Sequel [PDF]
2010: Production of Anhydrous Ammonia from Wind Energy — Anatomy of a Pilot Plant [PDF]
2009: Ammonia from Wind, Progress Update [PDF]
2008: Ammonia from Wind, an Update [PDF]
2007: Ammonia from Wind, an Update [PDF]
2006: Wind to Ammonia [PDF]

Links

West Central Research & Outreach Center, University of Minnesota
Frederic Bauer, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University
Christian Hulteberg, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University
Serina Ahlgren, Department of Energy and Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Browse other papers from the 2014 NH3 Fuel Conference

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