Aviation fuel from ammonia
Аммиак 2
The Australian company Aviation H2 is going to make a test flight with an ammonia-powered aircraft by mid-2023, reports New Atlas, a popular science portal. The substance resulting from synthesis of hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen can be an alternative to fuel cells whose introduction entails abandonment of turbofan engines and costly replacement of aviation kerosene storage systems.

The photo is sourced from newatlas.com

Ammonia is primarily known as a raw material for production of mineral fertilisers, but the Aviation H2 is going to use it as an energy carrier having several advantages in comparison with the other types of ‘clean’ fuels. Ammonia is much less explosive than gaseous hydrogen, and, at the same time, its density is higher – 12.7 MJ/l versus 8.5 MJ/l, its storage temperature (minus 33 degrees Celsius) is lower than the one of hydrogen in a liquid shape (minus 253 degrees). Another advantage is an extensive storage infrastructure: according to the International Energy Forum, there are 120 ports in the world today equipped with terminals for ammonia.

When burned in an aircraft engine, ammonia divides into several components: it is not only hydrogen entering into synthesis with oxygen to form water, but also nitrous oxide, which is environmentally dangerous. The Aviation H2 specialists are going to solve this problem with special filters that will prevent harmful emissions into the atmosphere. The use of ammonia as a fuel will also require upgrading the fuel tanks, which will start to resemble storage for the liquefied hydrocarbon gases.

Aviation H2 will conduct ground tests of the ammonia-fuelled plant in cooperation with charter operator – Falcon Air, which will give an aircraft for the first test flight. It is a nine-seat Dassault Falcon 50 business jet, which needs two of the three available engines to operate: one of them will be equipped with an ammonia engine.

The development made by the Aviation H2 is not the only project where ammonia is used as an aviation fuel. The efforts to build ammonia engines are made by the British Reaction Engines, as well as the University of Central Florida, which was allocated $ 10 million for this purpose.


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