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More than 85% of export-oriented low-carbon hydrogen projects plan to ship ammonia, not H2


More than 85% of export-oriented low-carbon hydrogen projects plan to ship ammonia, not H2

Ammonia, as a carrier of choice, dominates the current wave of hydrogen export projects. - ReChargeNews

Wood Mackenzie’s Hydrogen Project Tracker, which follows the progress of announced global hydrogen supply projects, shows most of the 100-plus low-carbon hydrogen supply projects announced to date in the Middle East, Australia, Latin America and Africa to be targeting exports.

More than 85% of the proposed capacity integrates ammonia and hydrogen to some degree, with ammonia intended for export markets and the remainder, hydrogen, largely aimed at domestic markets.

Ammonia is currently preferred for hydrogen exports for three reasons: its energy density; its proven synthesis technology and existing supply chains; and its potential to drive decarbonisation in its own right.

Ammonia’s energy density allows for efficient transportation of hydrogen

Arguably, the biggest technical challenge to global trade in hydrogen is its sheer volume at normal temperatures and pressures. This can be overcome by compressing the hydrogen (typically above 200 bar) and transporting it through pipelines or in tanks, by ship. Alternatively, hydrogen can be liquefied by reducing the temperature to -253°C, shrinking it to 1/800th of its volume under normal conditions.

Using hydrogen carriers such as ammonia (NH3) in liquid form at relatively low pressures has the advantage of an energy density three times that of compressed hydrogen and 1.5 times that of liquefied hydrogen. Using ammonia to export hydrogen long distances, therefore, requires far fewer ships to transport the same amount of energy.

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