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Notes to myself, possibly of interest to others.
-- Bill Northlich

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hope on the Energy Front! Ammonia Generated from Wind Power

There seems to be some hope (yikes!) on the energy front. Ammonia is chemically NH3, ie, a nitrogen atom combined with 3 hydrogen ones. For years the holy grail in energy has been Hydrogen. Well, actually the actual holy grail is Fusion power, a technology perennially 50 years in the future. But an ability to easily get and store Hydrogen, which "burns" with oxygen, producing water (2H + O = H2O) and energy, would be huge - a non-polluting, non-carbon producing base for any energy needs into the future - depending on our ability to get, store, and use hydrogen.

Ammonia turns out to be a great way to store, manipulate, and use hydrogen, composed as it is of 1/4 nitrogen and 3/4 hydrogen. Ammonia itself can be burned as-is in today's internal combustion engines with small modifications.

The trick is, how to generate ammonia on a large scale? Combining N and H into an ammonia atom requires energy in the first place. Matt Simmons, noted "Peak Oil" commentator, among others, proposes using renewable energy such as solar and wind to do such. There are on-going university studies on renewable ways to generate ammonia.

The key here is again that ammonia is a convenient way to use, store, and transport hydrogen, and a source of useable hydrogen is a way to break dependence on fossil fules.

Further reading on ammonia as an energy source is here and here. A more detailed presentation on ammonia energy is here.

--- Bill N

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