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Using Ammonia as Fuel

Ammonia, NH3, is a chemical compound composed of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. Since burning ammonia does not produce CO2 emissions, it is promising as a next-generation fuel source to help mitigate climate change. The IHI Group is cultivating its combustion technologies for thermal power generation to develop power generation technology using ammonia as a fuel. In addition, we are currently engaging in a demonstration project* aimed at developing vessels equipped with domestically produced ammonia-fuel engines. We are also preparing the infrastructure for more widespread use of ammonia as a fuel by constructing a complete ammonia value chain from production to consumption.

Subsidized by NEDO and launched in December 2021, the project to develop ships that run on domestically produced ammonia-fuel engines is a collaboration of NYK Line, Japan Engine Corporation, IHI Power Systems, Nihon Shipyard, and the Nippon Kaiji Kyokai.

Carbon Dioxide-free Power Generation Using Ammonia

While transitioning to carbon neutrality, we will reduce our CO2 emissions by co-firing ammonia and fossil fuels.
Our ultimate objective is to exclusively use ammonia as a fuel source for thermal power and gas turbine power generation with zero CO2 emissions.

From Co-firing to 100% Ammonia

World's First Demonstration project for a full-scale ammonia co-firing power plant

JERA Hekinan Thermal Power Station,
site of the test project in Hekinan,
Aichi Prefecture (Image courtesy of JERA)

We aim to establish a co-firing technology of coal and ammonia in a commercial-scale thermal power plant, and began conducting a four-year verification project beginning in June 2021. This project is subsidized by NEDO, and is being implemented in collaboration with JERA Corporation. By 2023, we aim to achieve a 20% co-firing of ammonia in Unit 4 of the Hekinan Thermal Power Station (power generation capacity: 1 million kW).

CO2-free power generation achieved with the world’s first gas turbine using 100% liquid ammonia

2,000 kilowatt-class gas turbine co-firing liquid
ammonia and natural gas at IHI Yokohama Works

As commissioned by NEDO, we are developing the technology for a 2,000 kW-class gas turbine that achieves combustion by directly spraying liquid ammonia into the combustion chamber. In June 2022, we succeeded in achieving the world's first 100% combustion of liquid ammonia, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 99% during combustion. We aim to commercialize ammonia-dedicated gas turbines by 2025.

The Ammonia Value Chain

Worldwide ammonia production amounted to roughly 200 million tons in 2019. The vast majority of ammonia, however, is consumed locally, as only about 20 million tons were traded on global markets. This means that if the major Japanese electric power companies were to adopt 20% co-firing at their coal-fired power plants, they would need some 20 million tons of ammonia* annually.
Ammonia is currently widely used as a raw material for fertilizers and chemical products, but the volume is relatively small. When the power generation industry begins increasing ammonia consumption, a full infrastructure will be needed not just for mass production but also for transport and storage, much like the distribution network for LNG.
The IHI Group will be involved in various processes in the ammonia value chain from production to use, including developing carbon-free manufacturing technologies and engineering and constructing liquid ammonia receiving sites.

Source: FY2020 Annual Report on Energy (Energy White Paper 2021)

Constructing the Ammonia Value Chain

  1. CCS: Carbon dioxide Capture & Storage
  2. EOR: Enhanced Oil Recovery

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