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An Ammonia-Hydrogen Energy Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality: Opportunity and Challenges in China


China has promised to reach the peak carbon dioxide emission (ca. 10 billion tons) by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. To realize these goals, it is necessary to develop hydrogen energy and fuel cell techniques. However, the high cost and low intrinsic safety of high-pressure hydrogen storage limit their commercialization. NH3 is high in hydrogen content, easily liquefied at low pressure, and free of carbon, and the technology of NH3 synthesis has been commercialized nationwide. It is worth noting that the production of NH3 in China is about 56 million tons per year, accounting for 35% of worldwide production. Hence, with the well established infrastructure for NH3 synthesis and transportation and the demand for clean energy in China, it is feasible to develop a green and economical energy roadmap, viz., “Clean low-pressure NH3 synthesis → Safe and economical NH3 storage and transportation → Carbon-free efficient NH3-H2 utilization”, for low-carbon or even carbon-free energy production.
Currently, the academic and industrial communities in China are striving to make technological breakthroughs in areas such as photocatalytic water splitting, electrocatalytic water splitting, mild-condition NH3 synthesis, low-temperature NH3 catalytic decomposition, and indirect or direct NH3 fuel cells, with significant progress.
Taking full advantage of the NH3 synthesis industry and readjusting the industrial structure, it is viable to achieve energy saving and emission reduction in NH3 synthesis industry (440 million tons CO2 per year), as well as promote a new energy industry and ensure national energy security. Therefore, relevant academic and industrial communities should put effort on mastering the key technologies of “Ammonia-Hydrogen” energy conversion and utilization with complete self-dependent intellectual property. It is envisioned that through the establishment of “Renewable Energy-Ammonia-Hydrogen” circular economy, a green technology chain for hydrogen energy industry would pose as a promising pathway to achieve the 2030 and 2060 goals.

Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics

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