World’s first dynamic green ammonia plant takes shape

A Danish partnership comprising, Topsoe, Skovgaard Energy, and Vestas is constructing a demonstration plant in Lemvig, Denmark, that will produce green ammonia based on renewable power and electrolysis of water.

Text by Topsoe

The project will demonstrate how renewable power can be coupled directly to the ammonia plant while considering the fluctuations in power production, making it a cost-effective way of producing green ammonia. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2023, making it the world’s first green ammonia plant of its kind. The partnership has received 81 million DKK (approx 11 million EUR) in funding from the Danish Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP).

Dynamic green ammonia plant

Green ammonia, produced from renewable energy, is an excellent fuel and fertiliser that can potentially replace significant volumes of fossil fuels and help accelerate the transition to a world powered by renewable energy. The plant will be state-of-the-art and the world’s first so-called dynamic green ammonia plant. The dynamic approach entails that the clean power from wind turbines and solar panels will be connected directly to the ammonia plant to improve cost-effectiveness.

The partners will collaborate closely to design the green ammonia plant’s dynamic technology to secure optimal production and adapt to the inherent fluctuations in power output from wind turbines and solar panels. This will be secured by integrating wind, solar, and electrolysis with an ammonia synthesis loop. In addition, the renewable energy generation will be connected directly to the national grid so surplus power can be sold to the grid.

The potential of green ammonia

Apart from being used for fertiliser to feed the world, ammonia has another great potential – when produced sustainably, it can become an emission-free green fuel or be used as energy storage and carrier. Green ammonia has been highlighted as a superior green fuel for shipping that currently accounts for around 2% of global energy-related CO₂ emissions. It can also play a vital role as a more sustainable fertiliser. Today, ammonia is used as fertiliser globally and comes from fossil-based production, accounting for around 1% of global CO₂ emissions.

Topsoe has developed process technologies and catalysts for producing green ammonia from renewable sources – wind, water, and air (Figure 1). Efficiently integrating green ammonia into existing hydrocarbon-based facilities without jeopardising plant reliability and yield is not only possible but also lucrative. Ammonia producers can revamp their existing ammonia plants into hybrid plants using Topsoe’s patented solution where implementation of water electrolysis can produce up to 10% green ammonia with minimal changes to the existing plant. And when the market demand for green ammonia increases, any existing ammonia plant can be further revamped above 10% green production. With its patented green ammonia solutions, established fertiliser producers can tap into the new green ammonia market and maintain current production capacity while adding green ammonia to the mix.

Figure 1. Hybrid ammonia plant concept

First-of-its-kind plant

Kim Grøn Knudsen, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Topsoe stated: “We are very excited to begin this next chapter going from maturing the project to actually begin construction of this cutting-edge green ammonia plant. The plant will serve as a prime example of how we can replace fossil-based fuels and fertiliser by carbon-neutral alternatives via electrolysis.”

Pat A Han, Technical Director, Skovgaard Energy added: “Northwest Jutland holds an immense potential for the technologies that we aspire to demonstrate in the project…We are happy to start construction of our first Power-to-X plant and to celebrate this event with our project partners. We believe there will be a lot for us to learn in operating this green ammonia plant, that will help us in the preparation of up-scaled Power-to-X projects.”

Ole Kiil Nielsen, Head of Power-to-X Solutions at Vestas also added: “As pioneers of renewable energy, Vestas is committed to expand its potential, also beyond the power sector. Vestas is uniquely positioned together with our partners to integrate and optimise renewable energy with other technologies to develop Power-to-X cost-effectively and at scale. This project displays how it can be done and builds critical experience for the partners. Vestas is firmly committed to lead development of this fast-evolving industry.”

A visualisation of the green ammonia plant. Image courtesy of Topsoe

Stainless steel in ammonia production

Ammonia production is considered only moderately corrosive, so a lot of carbon and low-alloy steels are used for vessels and piping. However, numerous applications are found for 300 and 400 series stainless steels because of their superior performance under a wide variety of process conditions, not only for original fabrication but also for replacement equipment and piping. For example, stainless steels are used in:

– Catalytic steam reforming because of its resisance to oxidation, carburisation and nitriding at elevated temperatures,
– CO₂ removal systems where piping and vessels are subjected to hot, aqueous solutions containing carbon dioxide at moderate to high velocity,
– Ammonia synthesis for superior performance in hot nitriding gases, resistance to hydrogen embrittlement and hydrogen attack, and excellent toughness at low temperatures,
– Centrifugal turbomachinery where rotating and stationary components are subjected to erosion by high-velocity steam and corrosion by ammonium carbamate, CO and CO₂,
– Coolers and condensers for resistance to corrosion and fouling by natural waters.

Source: ‘Stainless Steels in Ammonia Production’, Committee of Stainless Stee Producers, American Iron & Steel Institute.

About this Featured Story

This Featured Story appeared in Stainless Steel World June 2023 magazine. To read many more articles like these on an (almost) monthly basis, subscribe to our magazine (available in print and digital format – SUBSCRIPTIONS TO OUR DIGITAL VERSION ARE NOW FREE.

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