- Commercial aviation accounted for about 2.7% of the world’s human-induced emissions in 2019
- The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing (https://ibn.fm/Jilzk), meaning emissions will only increase in future
- To meet the targets stipulated in the Paris Agreement (https://ibn.fm/hN0cs), the industry will need to move away from fossil fuels entirely; green ammonia is emerging as one of the alternatives
- A consortium domiciled in the U.K. is developing a sustainable, low-emission propulsion system for airplanes that will use a blend of ammonia and hydrogen as a combustible fuel
- FuelPositive, through its proprietary system, produces green ammonia in a process that significantly reduces CO2 emissions associated with traditional NH3 production
According to a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (“ICCT”), commercial aviation emitted 920 million tons of CO2 in 2019, up from 903 million tons in 2018 (https://ibn.fm/ecyqd). Based on the 2019 figure, commercial aviation accounted for about 2.7% of all human-caused emissions, considering that the CO2 emissions in 2019 totaled roughly 33 billion tons. Although aviation is a small contributor to global greenhouse emissions compared to other sectors, a BBC Future Planet article points out that it is also one of the fastest growing (https://ibn.fm/pTRE1).
“With COVID-19, flights and passenger numbers plummeted, but the number of people flying is expected to return to 2019 levels within a few years and continue to grow. All this means that we need to start doing far more on aviation emissions, and fast. But bar gradually rising efficiency in planes, little progress has been made so far on how to actually decarbonize airplanes,” the article notes.
vCiting the Paris Agreement on climate change, which encapsulates ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions, the article states that aviation will need to move away from fossil fuels entirely in the long term to limit global warming. In line with this goal, the write-up explores several ways the industry can be kinder to the planet. These include switching the fuel to alternatives such as sustainable aviation fuels (“SAFs”) and synthetic fuels, building more efficient planes, optimizing flight routes, and, finally, enforcing policy measures.
Under the alternative fuels option, green ammonia (“NH3”) has increasingly taken center stage. In August last year, a consortium made up of the United Kingdom’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (“STFC”) and Reaction Engines finalized a concept study that explored the practicality of using NH3 as a jet aviation fuel. The study paired heat exchanger technology with advanced NH3 catalysts in the hope of producing a sustainable, low-emission propulsion system (https://ibn.fm/JCZOk).
According to Reaction Engines, ammonia’s energy density is high enough that planes would not require significant modifications. Designed to make ammonia use more economically viable than before, the engine (propulsion system), could be retrofitted in a relatively short time and would not require an entirely new electric powertrain.
According to a New Atlas article (https://ibn.fm/IPKhX), “The heat exchanger would capture heat from a jet engine’s exhaust and use it to power a cracking reactor. The reactor would catalytically convert pure ammonia into an ammonia-hydrogen blend that’ll work as an easily combustible fuel that’s more or less a drop-in replacement for jet fuel.”
Unfortunately, burning ammonia produces nitrous oxides that are harmful to the environment as they contribute to acid rain and smog formation. It is hoped that the consortium will take care of these issues in the same way FuelPositive (TSX.V: NHHH) (OTCQB: NHHHF), a company committed to clean energy solutions, has dealt with the CO2 emissions linked to the generation of grey ammonia.
Traditionally produced (“grey”) ammonia is generated through the Haber-Bosch process, in which nitrogen and hydrogen molecules react. This highly energy-intensive process, which consumes about 1% of the world’s total energy production, releases roughly 500 million tons of CO2 – 1.8% of total CO2 emissions from human activities globally. Yet, these figures do not even account for emissions from the on-site production of hydrogen, which is extracted from natural gas (methane) in a resource-intensive process – producing 1 ton of H2 requires 9 tons of water (https://ibn.fm/yYu4n) – that also emits large quantities of CO2.
In contrast, FuelPositive’s proprietary system produces green ammonia from sustainable electricity, water, and air, at a fraction of the cost of delivering grey NH3. According to the company’s case study conducted in Manitoba, Canada, its system is about 40% cheaper (https://ibn.fm/yJlxE). In addition, it requires less energy to produce NH3 on-site, as and when needed.
With the first prototype expected to be ready to deploy in the summer of 2022, researchers such as the consortium developing a propulsion system for airplanes can significantly benefit from FuelPositive’s modular and easily scalable NH3 production system. This would, in fact, conform with NHHH’s commitment to clean energy solutions, such as green ammonia, for use in a variety of applications.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.FuelPositive.com.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to NHHHF are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/NHHHF
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