Remote, small-scale, ‘greener’ routes of ammonia production

Pratham Arora, Ishan Sharma, Andrew Hoadley, Sanjay Mahajani, Anuradda Ganesh

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10 Citations (Scopus)


The techno-economic feasibility of low-carbon–based ammonia (NH 3 ) production has been explored in this study. Black coal and a eucalyptus-based biomass, available in the vicinity of a carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) sequestration site, have been chosen as the two carbon-based feedstocks. The scale of the production of NH 3 has been chosen to match the production of a bulk industrial Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil (ANFO) explosives manufacturing facility. The production of NH 3 from any carbon-based feedstock implicitly involves a CO 2 -removal step; therefore, only CO 2 pressurisation to the supercritical state is required before transporting it to the storage location. In order to gain a better understanding of the economic and environmental trade-offs, two representative flowsheets have been modelled in Aspen Plus ® simulation software for the two feedstocks. A Natural Gas (NG)-based NH 3 process has also been modelled for comparison. Material and energy balance data from the Aspen Plus ® simulation has been used to predict the economics and carbon footprint of NH 3 production from different feedstocks. A cradle-to-gate Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been performed to predict the environmental hotspots. A genetic algorithm based Multi-objective Optimisation (MOO) has generated Pareto plots that represent the minimum cost of NH 3 production against different CO 2 footprints. For a similar CO 2 footprint, the coal-based NH 3 process has been found to be more economic than the biomass-based process. However, the biomass-based process has the potential to be carbon negative by capturing the biogenic CO 2 , which is not possible in a coal-based process. The cost of carbon capture in coal-based NH 3 production has been estimated to be between 11 and 19 US$/tCO 2 eq , which is significantly lower than the cost of CO 2 capture from coal-based power generation (usually reported to be in the range of 40–60 US$/tCO 2 ).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-192
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2018


  • Ammonia production
  • Biomass
  • Coal
  • Economics
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Multi-objective optimisation (MOO)

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