Air Liquide has recently announced the construction of an industrial scale ammonia (NH3) cracking pilot plant in the port of Antwerp, Belgium. When transformed into ammonia, hydrogen can be easily transported over long distances. Using innovative technology, this plant will make it possible to convert, with an optimized carbon footprint, ammonia into hydrogen (H2). With this cracking technology, Air Liquide will further contribute to the development of hydrogen as a key enabler of the energy transition.
Ammonia, a molecule made of hydrogen and nitrogen, can be used as an energy carrier. It can be produced with a low-carbon footprint from hydrogen in geographies with abundant renewable energy sources such as sun, water and wind, or other low-carbon power.
Air Liquide is committed to making hydrogen a key element of the fight against climate change.Michael J. Graff, Executive Vice President Air Liquide Group
A global supply chain infrastructure is already in place for its production, transportation and utilization at large scale to serve various industries. This allows regions with abundant renewable energy to export ammonia to end users across the globe, where it can be converted back to hydrogen to contribute to the decarbonization of industry and mobility.
“Ammonia cracking complements Air Liquide’s already thorough portfolio of hydrogen technologies and adds yet another technological solution to enable the development of a hydrogen global market,” said Michael J. Graff, Executive Vice President Air Liquide Group. “More than ever, the Group is committed to making hydrogen a key element of the fight against climate change.”
The innovative pilot plant, which combines a novel efficient process with Air Liquide’s proprietary technologies, is planned to be operational in 2024. The Flemish Government, through the VLAIO (Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), has confirmed a financial support to the project.
1. Why is Ammonia useful in the hydrogen value chain?
Ammonia can be produced with low carbon emissions in regions with abundant renewable sources. The stability of the Ammonia molecule allows transportation at large scale over great distances across the globe. Due to this existing infrastructure and availability, excess energy can be transported to end users across the globe where it can be converted back to hydrogen.
2. How does Ammonia cracking work?
Ammonia Cracking is a process for converting ammonia back to hydrogen at scale. A key element of the Ammonia Cracking process is the Ammonia Cracker, which is a catalytic cracking furnace in which the ammonia synthesis reaction is reversed at elevated temperatures. The resulting cracked gas consists mainly of hydrogen and nitrogen. After a subsequent separation step, purified hydrogen is obtained.
3. Air Liquide’s ammonia cracking technology
Its highly efficient Ammonia Cracking process uses Air Liquide’s proprietary next-generation reactor tubes heat-integration technology. This technology allows for the highest possible ammonia to hydrogen conversion yield and zero direct CO2 emissions.
For over 60 years, Air Liquide has mastered hydrogen from production, transport, storage and distribution to its final usages. Within the context of its ADVANCE strategic plan, the Group is committed to investing globally approximately 8 billion euros in the low-carbon hydrogen value chain by 2035.