Hydrogen Engine Center will work together with Sawtelle & Rosprim to design and build the world’s first Ammonia-Fueled Irrigation Pump System for the purpose of meeting California’s new emissions requirements scheduled to go into effect in 2010.
Plans include integrating HEC’s ammonia-powered engines with Sawtelle’s pump technologies and expertise to complete a prototype system for testing and evaluation. The prototype system is being designed to run 24 hours a day and is expected to be tested in California during the 2007 irrigation season. HEC intends to begin selling the finalized system into California during 2008.
We believe that the demonstration of this engine will complete years of development work and will allow the sale of our systems worldwide without concerns about hydrogen storage, cost, availability or permitting. With the success of this project, we hope to move ammonia-fueled engines into the genset market.—Ted Hollinger, HEC President
Ammonia (NH3), also known as anhydrous ammonia, which the agricultural industry has relied on as a fertilizer for many years, contains no carbon, stores like propane and is the second most prevalent chemical in the world. Ammonia contains more hydrogen per cubic foot than liquid H2. Hollinger considers ammonia the “other hydrogen.”
An infrastructure for ammonia is already in place, as transporting and storing the fuel is much like that of propane. Usage and safety regulations for ammonia are already in place, therefore, the process of obtaining a permit to use ammonia is usually relatively simple. Ammonia pipelines can be found in many areas of the United States, including Iowa, and distribution of the fuel is already established.
HEC has established an Oxx Power engine line-up capable of running on a multitude of fuels, including hydrogen, and sees the decision to design ammonia-fueled engines the next logical step.
Work on ammonia-fueled combustion engines goes back at least to 1967 with some demonstrations of spark- and compression-ignited ammonia-fueled engines by the US Army. In a 2005 report, Hollinger noted that HEC has a proprietary controller that can run a fuel-injected spark-ignited engine fueled by ammonia.
Work done on advanced internal combustion engines by Sandia National Laboratories in 2000 found that:
The combustion of ammonia exhibits ideal Otto cycle performance in our free piston combustion experiment, and produces conversion efficiencies comparable to hydrogen.
Ammonia is comparable to gasoline as a fuel for combustion engines. Three gallons of ammonia is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline in energy content. In other terms, 2.35 pounds of ammonia is equivalent to one pound of gasoline in energy content.
HEC projects two versions of its ammonia engine: a 4.9-liter inline 6 and a 7.5-liter V-8, both fuel injected, and both using a new Oxx Boxx engine controller.