Last week I had talked about ammonia cars being developed by several different manufacturers. The ammonia would be used either for reforming and running through fuel cells or used in internal combustion engines.
Today, I would like to offer an update as researchers at Ohio University are also developing their own ammonia car as well. Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology, headed by professor Gerardine Botte, Ph.D. are developing an ammonia car that uses liquid ammonia with an onboard reformer, which extracts the hydrogen and runs it through a fuel cell to power the car.
In 2005, the research team developed a small hobby size car that ran on ammonia as a demonstration. Today the team is working on a full-scale prototype that runs on liquid ammonia. The only byproducts from ammonia cars is a small amount of water vapor and nitrogen, which is a non-toxic gas.
Ammonia is one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals on this planet, particularly for the farm industry. Farm animals themselves produce waste rich in ammonia. By some estimates, U. S. farms already produce enough waste ammonia to power 500,000 homes.
Powering cars on liquid ammonia would solve a key infrastructure issue that is at the heart of powering present day prototypes on gaseous hydrogen. Any kind of liquid fuel will be easier to store and transport than will gaseous hydrogen. Developing cars that can extract the hydrogen on demand from a chemical compound such as ammonia will means billions of dollars in savings over an entire infrastructure built around gaseous hydrogen.