Dual Fuel Diesel Engines using Renewable Ammonia as Secondary Fuel

PI: Will Northrop, Mechanical Engineering

Seamus Kane, PhD student, Mechanical Engineering

Project Statement:

Over 16.5M metric tons of anhydrous ammonia is transported in the US each year, 80% of which is used in the production of fertilizer for agriculture. This project builds on past and pending ENRTF investments in renewable ammonia production and utilization from wind. Expanding carbon‐free ammonia production opens the possibility for its use as a clean replacement fuel for diesel engines used in ammonia transport and for agricultural equipment as its combustion results in no carbon dioxide emissions. Renewable ammonia also has long‐term potential to enable efficient hydrogen (H2) production for fuel cell‐powered vehicles. This project will develop a novel technical solution to converting ammonia to hydrogen through catalytic decomposition for both diesel engine applications and fuel cell vehicle refueling. Ammonia moves within the US using diesel engine‐powered barges, trains, and pipelines which could be fueled, in part, by ammonia using the developed technology. Fuel cell cars powered by H2 produced directly from non‐renewable natural gas are currently being introduced in California by most major auto manufacturers. Using renewable ammonia as a H2 carrier could provide a pathway for their introduction in Minnesota by demonstrating a cost‐effective technology for H2 production and distribution. 

Our proposed concept uses a catalytic reactor, thermally integrated into the exhaust manifold of a diesel engine or packaged in a stationary refueling unit to decompose ammonia into H2, thus converting it into a useable fuel for dual‐fuel diesel engine operation or for powering fuel cell cars.

Project Goals:

1) Replace up to 80% of total fuel energy in diesel engines with renewable ammonia using a thermally integrated catalytic ammonia decomposition system.

2) Generate pure compressed H2 at a capacity of 2.5 kg/day using a custom designed compressed H2 refueling system using pressurized ammonia decomposition.

Sponsor: Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

clean vehicle fueled by hydrogen from renewable ammonia illustration

Renewable ammonia illustration