WSU Project Produces Ammonia As Alternative Fuel

Jan 26, 2017

A 3-D model of an ammonia molecule.
Credit Wikipedia

Wichita State University is developing a new technology that may affordably produce fuel-grade ammonia using only air and water as ingredients.

The project uses renewable electricity to produce ammonia as an alternative fuel with zero carbon emissions.

Shuang Gu.
Credit wichita.edu

Shuang Gu, a professor of engineering at WSU, developed a prototype to test this new way of creating ammonia. He says ammonia is a proven fuel source, but current methods of generating it are energy-intensive and costly.

"Now we have hope to advance this technology to the next level," he says. "We are hoping we can explore the commercial possibility at the end of the project."

Gu is working with two other researchers to develop the technology over the next two years. The team received an $855,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project. The competitive grant is the first of its kind awarded to a Kansas institution as the lead.

The DOE’s Renewable Energy to Fuels through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids program seeks to develop scalable technologies for converting electrical energy from renewable sources. Currently 95 percent of transportation fuel is derived from petroleum and burned in internal combustion engines. The NH3 Fuel Association says ammonia works efficiently in a range of engine types, including internal combustion engines, combustion turbines and direct ammonia fuel cells.

Gu says developing ammonia as an alternative fuel could reduce reliance on foreign oil and lead to new technologies and jobs.

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