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2018-07-12. Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon.

posted Jul 14, 2018, 9:01 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Jul 14, 2018, 9:02 AM ]
By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. For GSS Energy Use chapter 10 and Climate Change chapter 10. Excerpt: ...Australia [is] fertile ground for ...vast forests of windmills and solar panels. More sunlight per square meter strikes the country than just about any other, and powerful winds buffet its south and west coasts. ...[Douglas] MacFarlane ...For the past 4 years... has been working on a fuel cell that can convert renewable electricity into a carbon-free fuel: ammonia. Fuel cells typically use the energy stored in chemical bonds to make electricity; MacFarlane's operates in reverse. In his third-floor laboratory, he shows off one of the devices, about the size of a hockey puck and clad in stainless steel. Two plastic tubes on its backside feed it nitrogen gas and water, and a power cord supplies electricity. Through a third tube on its front, it silently exhales gaseous ammonia, .... "This is breathing nitrogen in and breathing ammonia out," MacFarlane says, beaming like a proud father. ...By converting renewable electricity into an energy-rich gas that can easily be cooled and squeezed into a liquid fuel, MacFarlane's fuel cell effectively bottles sunshine and wind, turning them into a commodity that can be shipped anywhere in the world and converted back into electricity or hydrogen gas to power fuel cell vehicles. ...environmentally, MacFarlane says, ammonia is as green as can be. "Liquid ammonia is liquid energy," he says. "It's the sustainable technology we need."... http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/ammonia-renewable-fuel-made-sun-air-and-water-could-power-globe-without-carbon