Benchmarking plasma and electrolysis decomposition technologies for ammonia to power generation
Ammonia is a promising energy and hydrogen carrier due to its ease of liquification, high hydrogen content, and potential to be synthesized without carbon feedstocks. Despite its widespread use in agriculture, the utilization of ammonia to deliver hydrogen or for direct power generation is still under development. Sometimes referred to as “cracking”, the standard approach for recovering hydrogen from ammonia relies on harsh reaction conditions that limit its suitability for low-carbon transitions. This work investigates the technology development status and potential cost of plasma and electrolysis-based ammonia decomposition, benchmarks them with thermal-chemical decomposition, and further compares them with direct ammonia-to-power solid oxide fuel cell systems. Results suggest that in order to reach cost parity with cracking technologies, plasma-based decomposition must achieve one order of magnitude improvement in energy efficiency (to 10 kWh/kg or lower), while electrolysis decomposition must achieve enhanced durability using cheap electrolytes.