What is it about?

The search for sustainable energy alternatives continues as the world is trying to shift its base from fossil fuel-based to carbon-free energy resources. One of the promising candidates that can replace carbon dioxide-intensive methane-fed energy economy is ammonia. High energy content and density allow ammonia molecules to act as vehicles for long-term energy storage. The existing Haber-Bosch process for ammonia synthesis is heavily dependent on natural gas as fuel. Switching to renewable fuels, enhancing water splitting abilities, and optimizing reaction conditions and response time of the Haber-Bosch process can pave the way for a second ammonia revolution. A sustainable energy landscape that can produce hydrogen fuel using renewable resources and eliminate direct carbon dioxide emissions could follow suit.

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Why is it important?

The current environmental crisis demands strategies that can combine renewable natural resources with energy generation on-demand. Redefined Haber-Bosch ammonia can be used to produce carbon-neutral energy using well-known procedures and existing infrastructures. The authors suggest two major factors that could affect the success of this energy revolution—first is increased energy efficiency and second is the small-scale of the process. Adopting an electricity-driven ammonia synthesis loop can boost the energy efficiency of the process by up to 50%. Energy efficiency can also be reinforced by developing alternative separation techniques and novel catalysts for ammonia production. The authors also highlight the need for localized renewable energy generation systems. They suggest further improvements to the Haber-Bosch process that can significantly reduce cost and encourage the establishment of small-scale production systems. KEY TAKEAWAY: Ammonia has always played a pivotal role in reshaping the progress of human society. The invention of the Haber-Bosch process revolutionized how the world produced food and now green ammonia holds the potential to reshape the current energy landscape by reducing direct carbon emissions and offering developing nations a means to abate poverty. This research relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure • SDG 13: Climate Action • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

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This page is a summary of: Current and future role of Haber–Bosch ammonia in a carbon-free energy landscape, Energy & Environmental Science, January 2020, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/c9ee02873k.
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