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Ammonia Economy - Peak Oil Preparedness
at the end of the world, will you feel fine?
annvole
peakoil_prep
annvole
Ammonia Economy
Ammonia Economy (reposted here on request)
With the talk of "the hydrogen economy" where fossil fuel use is replaced by the use of hydrogen, people have started to use the silly terms of "ethanol economy", "methanol economy", "lithium economy", "vegetable oil economy", "nitrogen economy", and "Ammonia economy" to suggest that these other fluids will be used to provide energy in our vehicles and possibly our other energy uses. Farmers use ammonia already for fertilizer so tanks and pipelines are already in use to transport ammonia which is even easier then natural gas to get to liquid form and far easier to store and pipe then hydrogen is. To make ammonia, natural gas is turned into hydrogen then it converted to ammonia using the nitrogen in the air. Because of this, ammonia is the first thing already adapted to the "hydrogen economy" (if cheap green electricity and efficient automatic hydrolysis systems were available to compete with natural gas as the source of the hydrogen). One thing that people do not know is that normal internal combustion engines can be modified to burn ammonia as a fuel and it produces air (nitrogen gas) and water as the byproducts with a slight bit of nitric oxides. These experimental engines produced far less nitric oxides then current gas and diesel engines produce and nitric oxides are easy to remove anyways. Since a large portion of our natural gas use is for ammonia production anyways, I see no reason for production of ammonia to be done using the intermittent wind power from wind farms. If small scale automatic ammonia production can be developed, I can see farmers getting into the act and setting up their own personal ammonia production for their own fertilizer use or for them to set up a cooperative to buy and sell the ammonia as produced and as needed by the farmers but with the wind mills on the farmers' land. Ammonia powered farm equipment is the next step as farming uses a lot of the vehicle fuel for tractors, grain drying, and food transportation. Unaltered internal combustion engines can run on fuels blended with some ammonia (and everyone is used to window cleaner with it's ammonia content so it is relatively safe). The real problem with burning pure ammonia in regular engines (diesel and gasoline) is the slower flame wave of ammonia but a new engine type called a quasiturbine works very well with slow-flame-wave fuels (like hydrogen that they mentioned but should be fine for ammonia too). The quasiturbine is already in production for chainsaws and lawnmowers and has proved itself to be lower in producing nitric oxides so it might make the ammonia's nitric oxide emissions to be low enough to be ignorable.

P.S. Jet engines and rocket engines have both successfully been made to run on ammonia and for a variety of interesting reasons such as the lack of soot in reusable rocket engines and the weight balancing of ammonia to oxygen in rockets (close to 50-50 ratio by weight) and the use of jets in very cold air streams (other fuels freeze).

PPS: current price of ammonia is much lower then gasoline and the ammonia plants are already making lots of ammonia and have been for years so it is available right now with no research (and no carbon). It is better then everything else in every way except it is toxic to marine life (humans too but you smell it and have burning eyes long before you are exposed to dangerous levels)
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Comments
(Deleted comment)
theheretic From: theheretic Date: April 21st, 2007 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty sure you can make this from methane gas from our own cesspits too.
annvole From: annvole Date: April 21st, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ammonia is NOT made from natural gas but rather it is made from hydrogen gas and the nitrogen part of air (air is about 80% nitrogen and about 20% oxygen). The problem is that hydrogen gas is made from natural gas a lot cheaper then using hydrolysis of water (using electricity to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen). Making cheap hydrogen using cheap electricity and better hydrolysis methods is the key invention set we need to eliminate natural gas from the competition for ways of making hydrogen.
(Deleted comment)
annvole From: annvole Date: April 23rd, 2007 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The problems with electric vehicles that make them less efficient then alternative fuels (hydrogen and ammonia in particular): Household electricity is 30-40% of the produced power with the 60-70% being turned to heat and electromagnetic radiation in the transmission lines and transformers. Making the fuel out of electricity right close to the power source will make it that much more efficient (minus transportation costs to get the fuel to your vehicles). The biggest cost and source of inefficiency in power plants is making things to power the peak load (so during off-peak times, the power station is overpowered and running at a much lower efficiency). Fuel production from electricity can be done at the power companies will so they can make it only in off peak times and can even adjust the rate of fuel production to keep the power plant running at "sweet spots" of highest efficiency. For the vehicle itself, batteries are heavy and as such the vehicle frame has to be heavier too which makes for inefficient vehicles (vehicle weight is the largest factor by far for efficiency) but fuel is essentially the weight of half a tank because the tank is emptying as the energy is used up. If a vehicle has poor range (electric vehicles are still plagued with short ranges) then less direct routes are often taken to travel where they can get more energy (fuel of some sort of battery charge). High vehicle prices, a slow charge rate, and limited range will also make for less customer acceptance too so less people will choose an electric vehicle then an alternate fuel vehicle... especially if their old vehicle can be altered to run the new fuel cheaply (as in ammonia... only some corroborator and fuel handling system changes)
annvole From: annvole Date: April 21st, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
The key advantages of ammonia over hydrogen gas is that ammonia is easy to handle because it can be poured as a liquid at normal air pressure and it does not need to be at very high pressures and spilled ammonia will not explode but hydrogen is highly explosive and the weight of the tanks to hold that high pressure hydrogen is much heavier then the simple tanks used for ammonia, and hydrogen actually eats the metal in tanks so they wear out but ammonia tanks last without breaking down.
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