Key Life Cycle Assessment Numbers for NH3, Green and Brown Energy

Yusuf Bicer1, Ibrahim Dincer1, Calin Zamfirescu1, Greg Vezina2*, Frank Raso2
1 Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and 2 Hydrofuel Inc., Canada

NH3 Fuel Conference, Los Angeles, September 20, 2016


This talk will present the results of two recent studies.

In the first study, four different ammonia production methods are comparatively evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The proposed ammonia production systems consist of an electrolyzer for hydrogen production and a Haber-Bosch plant for ammonia synthesis. The required energy for the systems are utilized from various resources namely hydropower, nuclear, biomass and municipal waste. Life cycle assessment methodology is used to identify and quantify environmental impacts in global warming potential, human toxicity and abiotic depletion categories of each method during the life cycle of the systems. The proposed non-conventional ammonia production options are comparatively assessed in terms of environmental impacts and both energy and exergy efficiencies as significant criteria for practical ammonia production applications. The LCA results for the ammonia production processes indicate that municipal waste incineration plant and hydropower based ammonia production methods have lower environmental impacts than other selected methods. The predicted greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of hydropower, nuclear, biomass and municipal waste based ammonia production methods are calculated as 0.38 kg CO2-eq, 0.84 kg CO2-eq, 0.85 kg CO2-eq and 0.34 kg CO2-eq per kg of ammonia, respectively. The energy and exergy efficiencies of the systems are comparatively evaluated and as an indicator of improvement potential, sustainability index values are calculated accordingly. The energy efficiencies of the proposed ammonia production methods are determined to be 42.7%, 23.8%, 15.4% and 11.7%, respectively for hydropower, nuclear, biomass and municipal waste based options. The corresponding exergy efficiencies are found to be 46.4%, 20.4%, 15.5% and 10.3%, respectively for hydropower, nuclear, biomass and municipal waste based options.

In the second study, a comparative life cycle assessment of internal combustion engine (ICE) based vehicles fueled by various fuels, ranging from hydrogen to gasoline, is conducted in addition to electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Various types of vehicles are considered, such as ICE vehicles using gasoline, diesel, LPG, methanol, CNG, hydrogen and ammonia; hybrid electric vehicles using 50% gasoline and 50% electricity; and electric only vehicles for comprehensive comparison and environmental impact assessment. The processes are analyzed from raw material extraction to vehicle disposal using life cycle assessment methodology. In order to reflect the sustainability of the vehicles, seven different environmental impact categories are considered: abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, global warming, human toxicity, ozone layer depletion and terrestrial ecotoxicity. The energy resources are chosen mainly conventional and currently utilized options to indicate the actual performances of the vehicles. The results show that electric and hybrid electric vehicles result in higher human toxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity and acidification values because of manufacturing and maintenance phases. In contrast, hydrogen and ammonia vehicles yield the most environmentally benign options.


Download this presentation [PDF, 1.3MB]


2007: Ammonia Powered Passenger Vehicles, Gasoline/Diesel Engine Conversions and Electrical Power Generation [PDF transcript / CBC News video]


Hydrofuel Inc.
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
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One response to “Key Life Cycle Assessment Numbers for NH3, Green and Brown Energy

  1. Pingback: Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of NH3 as a Transportation Fuel in Ontario – Ammonia Energy

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