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Welcome to Maine’s conversation about energy from ammonia. Now, you may be asking, “You mean that bottle of cleaning fluid under my kitchen sink?”. The answer is, “Well, yes, pretty much”. You can run a car on ammonia if you just change the gas tank; it was used in Belgium during the second World War, to power their buses. Another great thing about ammonia is that it does not produce greenhouse gases when it is burned.
There is at least one very interesting project going on in Maine to develop ammonia as an energy source. Its home is in Rockland at the Ocean Energy Institute, founded by the late energy maven, Matthew Simmons. OEI has been talking with Habib Dagher’s team at UMaine about incorporating ammonia production into the great DeepCwind project they are working on developing in the Gulf of Maine. In this plan, floating wind turbines, 20 miles offshore, could power desalinization plants on nearby barges. These plants would produce anhydrous (water-free) ammonia, hydrogen, fresh water and salt from ocean water. The entire system would be a carbon-free energy source from production to consumption. There are a few pesky details yet to be ironed out, such as stable storage of the anhydrous ammonia and what to do with all the salt that would be produced as a by-product. But keep an eye on these folks because they may be onto something.
OK you knew I would have to ask: has anyone thought of hooking up the power of the urinals at the corner pub on a Saturday night? Are there farm-based ammonia sources that we can tap? What ammonia energy project(s) have YOU been working on? Please join the conversation here and check back often to learn more about ammonia power in Maine.