Project considers ammonia-fed alkaline fuel-cell systems

AFC Energy has been awarded a European Union grant of up to €1.96m (£1.53m) for the launch of its Alkammonia project to develop ammonia-fed alkaline fuel-cell systems.

The EU grant is being funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH-JU), through the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

It will provide AFC Energy and its European project partners with three years’ financial support for the development of ammonia-fed alkaline fuel cells.

The grant, subject to final negotiation and agreement, is expected to be in place to enable the project to commence from March 2013.

If negotiations with FCH-JU are successful. AFC Energy will coordinate the project and expects its direct share of the project funding to be up to €0.64m (£0.52m) with the balance to be received by the other project partners.

According to a statement, the key to the wide deployment of AFC Energy’s systems will be their ability to be used with many different energy feedstocks, with ammonia as one key feedstock. 

It has a high energy density and can be easily converted to hydrogen (which powers AFC Energy’s fuel cells) by heating it in the presence of a catalyst, a process termed ‘cracking’.

AFC Energy’s alkaline fuel-cell system enables the efficient use of the hydrogen liberated by cracking, giving it the potential to be more economic than other fuel-cell types.

AFC Energy’s alkaline fuel cells are also said to have the advantage of being able to tolerate ammonia traces in the fuel stream, which has reportedly been confirmed by AFC Energy’s laboratory-based trials.

These tests confirm that power systems derived from the integration of ammonia with alkaline fuel cells do not require an expensive clean-up process.

Ammonia-fed alkaline fuel-cell systems are also far more efficient than known current diesel alternatives and the only emissions from this process are water and nitrogen.