Siemens Opens Ammonia Energy Storage Pilot Project

Siemens headquarters in Munich

Siemens headquarters in Munich. Credit: Siemens
Siemens’ new headquarters in Munich.

A chemical compound could help the world boost its consumption of renewable energy. A pilot project, developed by Siemens in collaboration with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK, and the University of Oxford and Cardiff University, is the world’s first demonstrator. This development highlights the complete cycle of renewable power, the storage as ammonia (NH3), and the conversion back to electricity.

A £1.5m pilot project is being opened by Siemens in Oxfordshire, in the UK in a world first. And, the project would utilise ammonia as a new form of energy storage. There are hopes to prove that ammonia could be useful in the context of managing the variable output of wind and solar power like the more established storage technologies like lithium-ion batteries.

The facility at Harwell considered as the proof-of-concept facility would turn electricity, water, and air into ammonia without releasing carbon emissions. Later, the ammonia that is stored in a tank could either be burned to generate electricity, sold as a fuel for vehicles or for industrial purposes like refrigeration.

Meanwhile, Siemens’ green ammonia demonstrator programme manager, Dr Ian Wilkinson, said that storage was recognised as the enabler for intermittent renewable power. He added that they were also looking at other uses, mobility, and industrial uses. Furthermore, Siemens believes that ammonia has an edge over a number of emerging storage technologies inclusive of flow batteries and liquid air as it is repurposing prevailing hardware and technology.

The compound reportedly was used as a fuel in Nasa hypersonic jets in the 1960s and some cars had been converted to run on it. However, Siemens did not expect it to be used directly in cars. In the context of hydrogen in ammonia, Wilkinson stated that they were supporting a hydrogen economy and hydrogen vehicles. Siemens is reportedly not expecting to make any money from the trial and is hoping to establish the concept and its utility.

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