Economical Low Pressure Production of Thermochemical Ammonia and Hydrocarbons

Reference Number: 12-27
Inventors: Ronald Michalsky and Peter Pfromm

Ammonia, NH3, is one of the world’s most produced chemicals. In particular, anhydrous ammonia, commonly known as fertilizer is of utmost importance for adequate food production. Rising food demand will further increase the importance of ammonia worldwide. Currently ammonia is produced through the Haber Bosch process which has been used for industrial synthesis since 1913. Through this process ammonia is produced at high temperatures and costly high pressures using a catalyst, and large amounts of methane, from natural gas. With the increasing worldwide demand for ammonia Kansas State University researchers have discovered a way to synthesize ammonia from just water, air, and solar energy.

This concept of fossil fuel free ammonia production is facilitated with a novel reactive material that utilizes water as a feedstock, instead of natural gas, used in previous methods; thus lowering carbon emissions. The two-step ammonia synthesis occurs at relatively similar temperatures and drastically lower pressures of around 1 atm, compared to 290 atm for the Haber Bosch process. A fundamental improvement of the reactant composition, addition of a cation to the reactive material allows for production under economically and technically attractive conditions. This new reactant avoids the need for a catalyst, which is the most discernable difference between prior methods.

Furthermore, if the novel transition metal-based reactive compositions are used in solar driven ammonia synthesis then the ammonia molecules produced can be utilized as a permanent storage and transport option for notoriously intermittent solar energy.

  • Fossil fuel free

  • Lower input costs

  • Drastically lower CO2emissions

  • Lower pressures used during production

  • Sustainable synthesis of ammonia

  • Synthesis of carbohydrates such as, methane or acetylene

  • Potential asset for the permanent storage of solar energy

Patent Status
  • PCT application filed in November 2013.

Kansas State University Research Foundation seeks to have discussions with companies that are interested in licensing and/or research collaborations.

Interested parties should contact:

Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC)
2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, KS 66502
Tel: 785-532-3900 Fax: 785-532-3909