2021 Valera-Medina ACS Review on Ammonia as a Potential Fuel – From Synthesis to Economics
Ammonia, a molecule that is gaining more interest as a fueling vector, has been considered as a candidate to power transport, produce energy, and support heating applications for decades. However, the particular characteristics of the molecule always made it a chemical with low, if any, beneﬁt once compared to conventional fossil fuels. Still, the current need to decarbonize our economy makes the search of new methods crucial to use chemicals, such as ammonia, that can be produced and employed without incurring in the emission of carbon oxides. Therefore, current eﬀorts in this ﬁeld are leading scientists, industries, and governments to seriously invest eﬀorts in the development of holistic solutions capable of making ammonia a viable fuel for the transition toward a clean future. On that basis, this review has approached the subject gathering inputs from scientists actively working on the topic. The review starts from the importance of ammonia as an energy vector, moving through all of the steps in the production, distribution, utilization, safety, legal considerations, and economic aspects of the use of such a molecule to support the future energy mix. Fundamentals of combustion and practical cases for the recovery of energy of ammonia are also addressed, thus providing a complete view of what potentially could become a vector of crucial importance to the mitigation of carbon emissions. Diﬀerent from other works, this review seeks to provide a holistic perspective of ammonia as a chemical that presents beneﬁts and constraints for storing energy from sustainable sources. State-of-the-art knowledge provided by academics actively engaged with the topic at various fronts also enables a clear vision of the progress in each of the branches of ammonia as an energy carrier. Further, the fundamental boundaries of the use of the molecule are expanded to real technical issues for all potential technologies capable of using it for energy purposes, legal barriers that will be faced to achieve its deployment, safety and environmental considerations that impose a critical aspect for acceptance and wellbeing, and economic implications for the use of ammonia across all aspects approached for the production and implementation of this chemical as a fueling source. Herein, this work sets the principles, research, practicalities, and future views of a transition toward a future where ammonia will be a major energy player.