NWO Perspectief Award for Project using Ammonia as Fuel for Heavy Transport

News - 30 May 2022 - Webredactie 3mE

The world badly needs alternatives to fossil fuels that produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, which drive global climate change. One promising alternative is ammonia, which by combining Fuel Cell and Internal Combustion Engine technologies could be used to fuel large ships and heavy road transport. This innovative idea has given rise to a multi-organisational interdisciplinary project - AmmoniaDrive – led by Professor Rudy Negenborn at TU Delft's department of Maritime and Transport Technology (M&TT), which has just been granted the prestigious Dutch Research Council (NWO) ‘Perspectief’ Award.

“The world is dependent on enormous ships for transport and offshore operations,” says project-leader and professor of Multi-Machine Operations and Logistics, Negenborn, “and these are hugely polluting because they run on diesel and other fossil fuels. If you add all these emissions together, the amount of pollution is comparable to that of a large country like Germany. So AmmoniaDrive is focussed on bringing these polluting emissions down to zero in order to achieve a fully carbon-free production and consumption chain.”

Ammonia has a relatively large energy density compared to Green Hydrogen, which means you can store a lot of energy in a much smaller volume. “This makes it very attractive as a sustainable alternative fuel,” explains Peter de Vos, researcher and instigator of this whole project. “What’s innovative about AmmoniaDrive is, firstly, using ammonia as a fuel, and secondly combining a high temperature fuel cell with an internal combustion engine. The idea is to feed ammonia into one end of the fuel cell, producing electricity and hydrogen at the other end. The hydrogen is used as a promoter fuel in the internal combustion engine to deal with the challenging combustion properties of ammonia.”

AmmoniaDrive is a consortium of six universities, three research institutes and twelve industrial partners which will spend the next five-years investigating how to use ammonia as an affordable, safe and energy-efficient fuel to make transport by ships and large trucks a lot cleaner and more sustainable. “We are incredibly proud and extremely pleased to have been awarded this Perspectief grant,” says de Vos, “and it is my personal hope that we’ll already be seeing the 1000th AmmoniaDrive ship starting her maiden voyage from the Netherlands by 2050!”

Also read: 32 million euros for seven new Perspectief programmes | NWO

TU Delft is also participating in these five other awarded Perspective consortia:

Towards circular electronics

Circular Circuits: design of next-generation electronics for a circular economy

Our digitalising society increasingly depends on heavier electronic equipment. We need to radically change the design, production and use of electronics. Otherwise, the amount of electronic waste will increase fourfold in the next two decades, and the required raw materials will be exhausted rapidly. This Perspectief programme will use a systematic approach to develop a completely circular generation of electronics. The researchers will work on solutions for extending the lifespan, reuse, repair and recycling of electronics. For this, they will examine technological design aspects as equally new business models and advanced recycling technology. The project focus on applications in telecommunication, consumer electronics, lighting and power electronics. The TU Delft scientists involved in this research include Peter Rem (CEG), Yaia Gonzalez Garcia, Arjan Mol, Yongxiang Yang and Jan-Henk Welink (all four 3mE).

More scrap metal to produce steel
Data Enhanced Physical models to reduce Materials use (DEPMAT)
Programme leader: Prof. Ton van den Boogaard (University of Twente)

Early prediction of treatment efficacy 
MAESTRO: Metabolic Imaging to Improve Patient-Specific Therapy Outcome
Programme leader: Dr Jeanine Prompers (University Medical Center Utrecht)

Preventing airborne transmissions of viruses
MItigation STrategies for Airborne Infection Control (MIST)
Programme leader: Prof. Detlef Lohse (University of Twente)

Fighting arthritis
Programme leader: Prof. Marcel Karperien (University of Twente)

About Perspective
The Perspective program challenges researchers to form consortia with industry and social organizations. Together, they work on technological innovations with social impact and the creation of economic opportunities for the Netherlands. The research focuses on the major societal challenges and key technologies, thereby contributing to the mission-driven Top Sectors and Innovation Policy.

View all videos of the awarded Perspective consortia at the bottom of NWO's page.