As this is a dutch blog it may sometimes seem it is written from an ancient perspective, in many places of the world the switch to renewables is an inevitable one, and one can feel the power of this change, and see it everywhere. Belgium’s solar installations for instance present a remarkable contrast from the ones in Holland, when you travel by train and look out the window, there’s no street in Belgium without at least one set of panels.
The Anti Diesel movement is global and growing
But some really significant options have been weeded out by consultants early on in the game, maybe not elsewhere but for sure in Holland. When universities, consultancies and industry organized a series of workshops to teach politics about our energy transition, hydrogen H2 was promintent, but Ammonia, NH3 was ignored, and even questions about it where ignored (I asked them). This made me believe that the events where really about diverting attention to long term programmes, to protect the fossil industry. CCS was prominent, Nuclear, it’s the usual suspects of bad ideas making a few people shitloads of money.
As I looked into NH3 the option to use it as fuel became a much better alternative than Hydrogen (H2). NH3 is basically Hydrogen on a Nitrogen carriers. It is liquid under much less pressure than Hydrogen, so it can be stored in tanks like LNG. It has similar combustion properties as diesel, and even gasoline engines can be adapted at very low cost to NH3 as fuel.
NH3 has been used to power busses in WOII, and as a fuel has more power than Diesel, yet it is less flammable, so in the event of a crash the risk of fire is less. NH3 is also less harmfull than for instance gasoline, because it’s toxicity is reversable, so a person caught in a NH3 cloud will certainly get sick, just like one caught in a cloud of gasoline vapours, but that person will recover if saved in time with less problems than when caught in a gasoline cloud, or fireball more likely.
Ammonia performance car, not really true to say it’s only for low RPM..
For reference we can look at the people that cleaned up the Mexican Gulf oil spill of which many came down with irreversible brain damage due to the solvent properties of the fossil compounds in the oil slick (lets not talk about the carcinogen Benzene). NH3 is produced in the body, that’s how foreign the substance is.
NH3 burns with no CO2, only H2 and N2, and lower NOx than diesel or gasoline
Today we see a growing movement to ban Diesel vehicles from cities, this has two reasons, one is that it prevents lung disease, because especially as cars and trucks accelerate and decellerate diesel engins belch out a lot of soot and burn less efficiently. Also the diesel is better used in industry, and anything that reduces consumer waste of fossil fuel in favor of industry will lead to more wealth (as industry produces wealth, consumers destroy it). Also as industrial standards are weaker (having witnessed the pollution (and slow reduction of it) in ports first hand) heavy fuels have more longevity in industrial markets.
Cars can switch between diesel and NH3, Gasoline and NH3 while driving.
The ommision this movement against diesel makes is to look at NH3, because even as an interim solution, car parks are much easier to switch to NH3 than to being electric, especially and it’s amazing that Tesla probably has to build an electric truck before the big truck manufacturers see the light. The focus is put on self driving trucks, autonomous road trains and all the stuff that will keep us from actually transitioning to cleaner fuels. Part of this reluctance to look at it is that in the renewables based future it’s unlikely that a company that has to ship over the horizon will be viable. The long range logistics world is a product of fossil energy.
NH3 has been tried and promoted and is currently still promoted. It has been killed by the fossil industry many times, because the fossil industry has always been able to corrupt politicians, who want to meet short term needs usually a result of fossil fuel scarcity. Farmers have created wind turbines with a NH3 generating system to both fertilize their fields and drive their equipment. NH3/fuel cell cargo locomotives have been designed, road trucks converted (sometimes only by changing the ignition software). And all these initiatives have been killed or died a quiet death. Consultancies have ignored it (and we know how independent they can be).
We have written about how NH3 can be extracted from manure quite easily still leaving suger and cellulose rich base material for biogas installations
NH3 logistics is not difficult, as farms need it year round. So all over the world there are NH3 storage facilities and pipes lying dormant most of the time. It is time we start using them. NH3 production used to be electric, using the Haber Bosch process and hydrodam electricity. When WOII came gas was used to make it, because the stuff was used in bombs, and after WOII this new artificial fertilizer was sold to farmers who all moved along with the fossil intensive (so fossil incentivised) agricultural intensivation movement. But farms can be organic and use NH3 as a fuel, and thus be independent and motorized, and it can be done in a matter of months not decades.
Power 2 Gas from Wind or Solar is about making H2, Methane and NH3
Many of us make money off of problems, and the manure surplus problem is one of them. The nitrates or nitrogen mentioned if people talk about it is part NH3, so a huge amount of usefull fuel is wasted so that farmers don’t see a way off of having to buy fuel every time again. This situation is politically motivated, because independent farmers are the natural leaders of society, not the banks and traders. To keep farmers quiet they need to be struggeling or in league with the powers that be, this has been a principle for centuries. This will change as fossil fuels become less prominent, and hopefully the world will be a greener, cleaner world, a patchwork of small communities that farm and enjoy life without high concentrations of people that make a lot of them desperate and ready to do immoral things to survive.
There is limted time to get to that world, or it will burn up in front of our eyes, and one way to speed up progress is to use NH3 in diesel vehicles until they are replaced by electric ones. This should become part of any political parties agenda, of the EPA environmental services, road safetly watchdogs and those that now make diesel engines. Even though NH3 is now still a gas based product, it can be made with renewable electricity, wind, and thus be transitioned fast with less emissions and pollution.
Marangoni High Performance Ammonia NH3 fueled upgrade version