What Is Ammonia?

Today, we launch Amogy’s inaugural blog!  

Our team has more than just technical expertise. We’ll be sharing our ideas and insights from the job. Think of it as a travel journal while on the road to Net Zero 2050. But for our first post, let’s cover the basics of ammonia as a fuel and hydrogen carrier. You may be thinking, “Ammonia? Isn’t that what’s in my house cleaner? Isn’t that what we use for fertilizer?” That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what ammonia can do. So how do we turn it into fuel? Jump in.

  • What is ammonia? Ammonia, consisting of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms, is one of the most commonly produced industrial chemicals. It’s all around us and exists naturally in humans and in the environment. At room temperature, ammonia is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that is easy to identify. When compressed, it forms a clear liquid under pressure that can be stored at approximately -34°C (-29°F). At ambient temperatures, ammonia can also be stored as a liquid with only mild pressure.
  • How is ammonia produced? Ammonia is produced via the Haber-Bosch Process, which results in a nitrogen and hydrogen catalytic reaction at high temperature and pressure. It can be made from coal and natural gas. Whereas “green ammonia” can be made by other means, such as wind or solar-powered electrolysis of water, “blue ammonia,” which is carbon neutral, is made from traditional fossil fuels. The carbon is captured and off-set resulting in net zero emissions.
  • What else is ammonia used for? Currently, ~80% of the ammonia produced is used as fertilizer. However, it is also used as a refrigerant gas to purify water supplies and in manufacturing plastics, explosives, textiles, pesticides, dyes, and other chemicals. It is found in many household and industrial-strength cleaning solutions, which are manufactured by adding 5% to 10% ammonia gas to water.
  • Is ammonia dangerous? Ammonia is a toxic substance but it has been used in industry settings for over 100 years. The industrial, safety, and regulatory framework for the production, storage, transportation, and application of ammonia is well established. Amogy follows strict safety guidelines, including all international, federal, state, and local regulations regarding its handling.
  • How does Amogy use ammonia? Amogy’s proprietary technology allows for the efficient “cracking” of ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen. This process utilizes a catalyst and captures the hydrogen to be funneled into a fuel cell, generating power.  
  • What are the applications of the technology? Limitless! From stationary power to agriculture to aviation and the maritime industry, the potential to power anything is possible. As that other travel blogger Jack Kerouac said in On the Road, “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” 
  • How far along is your technology and commercialization?  In 2022 we successfully demonstrated our technology on a 5 kilowatts drone. Later in the year, we demonstrated 100 kW of power on a John Deere tractor. And early in January of 2023, we showcased a 2018 Freightliner semi truck with 300 kW of power. In each stage, there were world-firsts! We’re moving quickly towards commercialization and look forward to documenting our journey with you.

We’re excited about the future and the role ammonia will play in helping governments and industries meet carbon reduction targets and ensure energy security. Stay tuned for more notes from the open road to a decarbonized 2050.