On the high seas of the Norwegian continental shelf, cargo ships are a familiar sight. If scientists have their way, however, a new type of ship could soon appear over the horizon, powered not by a dirty pollutant but ammonia….
Of course, all knowledge is local etc etc. But this looks like something of a waste to me.
They’ve got to get the ammonia first – steam reforming of methane, or perhaps hydrogen from electrolysis driven by windmills – which has emissions. Sure carbon capture, mebbe.
But if you’re going to do that why stop with ammonia, which is highly corrosive, has to be cooled and compressed etc. Why not carry on the chemistry to a hydrocarbon? Which we know how to carry around, we’ve already a century of experience in making the engines using it efficient and so on.
Of course, again, all knowledge is local etc. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that for certain applications – maybe ships, more likely jet engines – the replacement for oil is oil. Just, we make the oil rather than drilling for it. The economic point here being that if you make hydrogen cheap enough then it works. And if you make electrolysis from solar and or wind cheap enough then it works again.
“Cheap enough” being an interesting definition in itself but still true. In fact, we already know how to make avgas and the like this way, it’s just not cheap enough yet.
The greatest benefit of this process being, obviously, that it will piss off so many greenies.