'Ammonia cracker for hydrogen import is technically and economically feasible in The Netherlands'
By: Hidde Middelweerd
A large-scale cracker that converts ammonia into hydrogen, resulting in one million tons of hydrogen per year. It is technically and economically feasible, according to a new study by Fluor. The consultancy carried out the study on behalf of the Port of Rotterdam Authority and seventeen other companies in the region.
The Netherlands and Europe have ambitious plans for green hydrogen. For example, the Dutch government is aiming for 8 gigawatts of electrolysis capacity in 2032. The European Union wants to be able to produce around 20 megatons of renewable hydrogen by 2030, as described in the REPowerEU strategy.
Ammonia and green hydrogen
But… that is not nearly enough to meet future hydrogen needs. In other words: both the Netherlands and the EU will become largely dependent on hydrogen imports. The question is therefore: how do you transport hydrogen on a large scale? And how do you land it safely and efficiently?
A promising option: by binding hydrogen (under high pressure and at a high temperature) to nitrogen, liquid ammonia is created, which is much easier to ship than hydrogen. With the help of a cracker, the ammonia can be converted back into hydrogen at the final destination.
CO2 reduction of 10 million tons
In Fluor's study, proven technologies to do the latter were inventoried and investigated. The analysis shows that there are already several proven techniques for safely converting ammonia into hydrogen, including the use of a large-scale ammonia cracker. This could produce 1 million tons of hydrogen per year, fits within the safety requirements of the Rotterdam port area and is both technically and economically feasible. In addition, there is a great deal of knowledge and expertise available in the Rotterdam port area in the field of ammonia and cracking technology.
According to the study, the sustainable impact of such a cracker is obvious: one million tons of green hydrogen is approximately equivalent to a CO2 reduction of 10 million tons.
Ammonia cracker in the port of Rotterdam?
The study also compared the use of one large-scale and centrally located squatter with a scenario of several, smaller squatters. Fluor states that a large-scale cracker entails lower costs, thanks to economies of scale and more efficient storage and transport of hydrogen.
It is not clear whether the results of the study will bring an ammonia cracker in the Rotterdam port area closer. Possible follow-up steps will be investigated in the near future.
Continuous research and innovation provides solution that seemed impossible. Well done.