Impact Assessment and Environmental Evaluation of Various Ammonia Production Processes

Abstract

In the current study, conventional resources-based ammonia generation routes are comparatively studied through a comprehensive life cycle assessment. The selected ammonia generation options range from mostly used steam methane reforming to partial oxidation of heavy oil. The chosen ammonia synthesis process is the most common commercially available Haber-Bosch process. The essential energy input for the methods are used from various conventional resources such as coal, nuclear, natural gas and heavy oil. Using the life cycle assessment methodology, the environmental impacts of selected methods are identified and quantified from cradle to gate. The life cycle assessment outcomes of the conventional resources based ammonia production routes show that nuclear electrolysis-based ammonia generation method yields the lowest global warming and climate change impacts while the coal-based electrolysis options bring higher environmental problems. The calculated greenhouse gas emission from nuclear-based electrolysis is 0.48 kg CO2 equivalent while it is 13.6 kg CO2 per kg of ammonia for coal-based electrolysis method.

Graphical Abstract

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Abbreviations

BWR:

boiling water reactor

CCS :

carbon capture storage

CFBG:

circulating fluidized bed gasifier

CNG:

compressed natural gas

DG:

downdraft gasifier

GHG:

greenhouse gas

HHV :

higher heating value

IPCC:

intergovernmental panel on climate change

LCA:

life cycle analysis

LPG:

liquefied petroleum gas

PEM:

proton exchange membrane

PV :

photovoltaic

PWR:

pressurized water reactor

SD:

standard deviation

SMR:

steam methane reforming

USES:

The Uniform System for the Evaluation of Substances

UCG:

underground coal gasification

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the support provided by the Mitacs (The Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems) Accelerate.

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Correspondence to Yusuf Bicer.

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Bicer, Y., Dincer, I., Vezina, G. et al. Impact Assessment and Environmental Evaluation of Various Ammonia Production Processes. Environmental Management 59, 842–855 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0831-6

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Keywords

  • Ammonia
  • Fuel
  • Hydrogen
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Environmental effect
  • Conventional