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NOVEL ROUTES AND CATALYSTS FOR SYNTHESIS OF AMMONIA AS ALTERNATIVE RENEWABLE FUEL

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ORACLE (NOVEL ROUTES AND CATALYSTS FOR SYNTHESIS OF AMMONIA AS ALTERNATIVE RENEWABLE FUEL)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2021-05-01 do 2022-10-31

From the outset, the ORACLE project aims at developing and testing at TRL 3 technologies of ammonia production that are suitable for decentralised production. Ammonia production is highly centralised and there is a spatial mismatch between renewable energy production technology and ammonia production, a challenge ORACLE addresses.  

Ammonia has been identified by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Programme as a potential hydrogen carrier for hydrogen delivery to be used in the transition towards the hydrogen economy.   In addition, it can be used directly in subsequent “green” fertiliser production, which is on the rise. Ammonia is of great social importance, as it supports food production. Ammonia production today is heavily dependent on natural gas, and the prices have recently skyrocketed in Europe due to the Russia-Ukraine war.  

Our main goals are to develop thermocatalytic, electrocatalytic and plasma-assisted electrocatalytic processes. We work on developing new materials and processes, as well as to ensure optimal conditions for the synthesis to occur.  
In WP2, we report progress on modelling of Ru and Ga surfaces, for thermocatalytic and electrocatalytic purposes. Here we show that Ga needs large overpotentials to catalyse nitrogen reduction to ammonia, and that the dominating mechanism is associative. The presence of Li ions helps activate nitrogen on Ga at lower overpotentials. However, hydrogen evolution reaction will dominate in aqueous media which makes Ga of no interest.   

In WP3, the present development of Co67Ni33-Al2O3 powder (30 wt.% of CoNi phase) is conducted. Characterisation of both the synthesised powder and 3D printed monoliths under repeated AMF field ramp up show Co:Ni powder can be used for magnetic heating and temperatures up to 600 oC. The powder was successfully synthesized in batches up to 18 grams, incorporated in alumina and 3D printed as monolith.   

In WP4, we developed methods of synthesis of Mn, Ga and In nanoparticles and OER catalysts. We developed electrochemical cell and operating procedures that ensure unambiguous evaluation of catalyst performance. We tested ammonia synthesis on Ga, and, in accordance with WP2 results, we experimentally showed that Ga is not a suitable catalyst for ammonia synthesis. We performed a literature review for electrocatalysis of N2 at room temperature and the conclusion is that the approach ORACLE is using, in terms of electrolyte choice and electrochemical cell design, is correct. ORACLE plans to test two remaining catalysts, Mn and In, and, if needed, switch to non-aqueous media as part of our risk mitigation strategy.  

In WP5, a series of various catalysts were deposited onto commercially available YSZ tubes primarily to examine coating quality layer uniformity and adhesion. This has not been done on proton conducting membranes, as there is a lack of commercially available solutions. Hence, effort has been put into the development of custom-made ORACLE own tubular (and/or planar) substrates and their subsequent deposition. In this first reporting period surface area and catalytic activity of some new materials were examined. We improved the existing plasma reactor for working at higher temperatures. We started with the deposition of silver (Ag), gold (Au), and platinum (Pt) onto YSZ tubes and determined the surface area of the Pt catalyst by H-adsorption/desorption.  

We have advanced the state of the art by filling out two patent applications and publishing two peer-reviewed publications. In addition, other progress presented in this report goes beyond the state of the art, although they are yet to be published/exploited.  
We have advanced the state of the art by filling out two patent applications, and publishing two peer-reviewed publications. Although also some other parts of progress presented in this report goes beyond state of the art, they have not been published/exploited yet.
Given the current low TRL level, societal implications are still very low.