Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday the shipment of the world’s first blue ammonia cargo, opening up “a new route to a sustainable future,” Kallanish Energy reports.
In a joint statement, Saudi Aramco, SABIC and the Institute of Energy Economics of Japan (IEEJ) said 40 tonnes of high-grade blue ammonia have been dispatched to Japan for power generation.
The fuel has been produced from the conversion of hydrocarbons to hydrogen, and then to ammonia, abated by a carbon capture system. Ammonia contains roughly 18% hydrogen by weight and is already a widely traded chemical. It releases zero CO2 emissions when combusted in a thermal power plant.
The milestone, however, is the fact that the ammonia produced in Saudi Arabia comes from natural gas, is shipped all the way to Japan, while captured CO2 will be used by Saudi firms.
SABIC will use 30 tonnes of captured CO2 to produce methanol and Aramco will use 20 tonnes of captured CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).
“This milestone highlights one of several pathways within the concept of a global Circular Carbon Economy, a framework in which CO2 emissions are reduced, removed, recycled and reused – as opposed to being released into the atmosphere,” the parties said.
The multi-industry partnership spanned the full value chain and overcame challenges associated with the shipping of blue ammonia, with the help of Mitsubishi, JGC Corporation and UBE Industries. These companies were overseeing the transport logistics of the project.
The demonstration project may be the first step towards a blue ammonia conversion of existing Japanese power plants, according to Toyoda Masakazu, CEO of IEEJ.
“Blue ammonia is critical to Japan’s zero carbon emission ambitions to sustain the balance between the environment and the economy,” said Masakazu. “About 10% of power in Japan can be generated by 30 million tons of blue ammonia. We can start with co-firing blue ammonia in existing power stations, eventually transitioning to single firing with 100% blue ammonia.”
Aramco’s chief technology officer, Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, added: “the use of hydrogen is expected to grow in the global energy system, and this world’s first demonstration represents an exciting opportunity for Aramco to showcase the potential of hydrocarbons as a reliable and affordable source of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia.”