Fulfilling the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting climate change, requires strong and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Policymakers and industries point to a transition from fossil fuels to hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers as part of the solution. Zero-carbon ammonia, or green ammonia, is produced from green hydrogen based on renewable energy and has recently gained wide interest. It has the potential to decarbonize ammonia production, and could be a zero-carbon solution for energy storage and transportation, particularly within the shipping sector.
Despite all advantages connected to a transition from fossil fuels to green ammonia, applications of this gas bring numerous challenges. Current ammonia use, primarily related to the agricultural sector, have revealed problems related to air pollution, non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and ozone layer depletion. History has also shown that new technologies could lead to unforeseen consequences, e.g., in the case of chlorofluorocarbons depleting the ozone layer and amplifying global warming. Thus, potential climate and environmental impacts due to expanded use of ammonia urgently need to be assessed and quantified to avoid any pitfalls. Such knowledge is a prerequisite for the industry in ensuring that new technology is not only carbon free but fully climate and environmentally friendly.
AMMONIA brings together leading atmospheric researchers and green ammonia producers, potential users, and technology developers. Using observations and state-of-the-art modelling, the project aims to greatly enhance our knowledge on atmospheric impacts associated with both current and potential future use of ammonia. A main goal is to provide the industries, decision-makers and the scientific community with the necessary scientific knowledge on climate and environmental consequences of replacing conventional fossil fuels with green ammonia.
The development of green ammonia (NH3) has recently gained wide interest due to its potential to decarbonize ammonia production and as a carbon-free solution for energy storage and transportation. Green ammonia production is purely based on renewable energy sources and no carbon is associated with its use, e.g. as a chemical fertilizer, or when ammonia is combusted in an engine. However, the production and use of ammonia come with other climate and environmental challenges due to its alteration of the Earth’s nitrogen cycle.
Emissions of ammonia to air may lead to formation of fine particles through complex atmospheric chemistry and aerosol processes, affecting air quality and human health. The particles also affect climate through reflection of sunlight. Use of ammonia leads to emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a long-lived and potent greenhouse gas. N2O is currently also the dominant gas depleting the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful UV radiation. Atmospheric impacts due to nitrogen oxides (NOx) add to the complexity. According to the 2021 report of the IPCC, the representation of ammonia in models is rather unsatisfactory with great uncertainties. Before introducing new ammonia technologies on a large scale, we need to thoroughly understand current atmospheric impacts of ammonia.
The AMMONIA project aims to greatly enhance our knowledge on atmospheric impacts associated with both current and potential future use of ammonia. Comprehensive state-of-the-art modelling, carefully validated by ground-based and space-borne measurements, will be performed together with world leading experts. The integrated and consistent approach of AMMONIA will be further strengthened by feeding the multi-model results into a life-cycle assessment. The project aims to provide the industries, decision-makers and the scientific community with the necessary scientific knowledge on climate and environmental consequences of replacing conventional fossil fuels with green ammonia.