Four or five times in the past, I’ve talked about ammonia cars. I’ve also talked about ammonia itself being a feasible chemical hydrogen carrier for future cars. The other day I stumbled across Professor Vito Agosta of Brooklyn’s Polytechnic University posting his thoughts in 2003 about the Ammonia Economy as a pathway to a hydrogen future.
Even though technology has changed much since then, Professor Agosta makes a few points that are still valid and worth noting. The professor back then was calling for an immediate switch to ammonia as fuel for vehicles with internal combustion engines.
He notes that there is already an ammonia infrastructure in place and that ammonia can be doped with “environmentally friendly chemical additives” to make it compatible with today’s engines. The Hydrogen Engine Center in Algona, Iowa has already taken it upon itself to build ammonia internal combustion engines commercially.
The professor also presents a more intriguing idea and that is of using ammonia as an emulsificant for gasoline, cutting down emissions now while increasing the blend gradually.
According to Agosta, “At the present time, technology exists in which an emulsificant can be used as a component in a fossil fuel, so that the ignition properties of the emulsion are not altered. Ammonia can gradually be introduced as the emulsificant. Ammoniated fuel will power an engine or burner with very little modification. Thus, the transition to an ammonia-based fuel economy can be as slow or as fast as societal conditions permit.”
While many have turned their noses up at the thought of an ammonia-based transportation system, I believe it is worth another look. One of the most used household cleaning products may one day be used to fuel clean cars.