Ammonia (NH3) is a naturally occurring chemical found in air, water, plants, and animals. It is comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms, and even though it occurs naturally in the environment, it is the second largest artificially produced chemical in the world.
Why should we care about ammonia production?
Ammonia is manufactured using the Haber-Bosch process, which synthesizes Ammonia (NH3) from Hydrogen (H2) and Nitrogen (N2). Nitrogen is an inert gas abundant in the air we breathe, and hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. However, hydrogen rarely exists in its elemental form, and obtaining hydrogen requires extracting it from another source, called a hydrogen carrier.
When hydrogen is obtained from hydrocarbons, such as natural gas or coal, the carbon constituents leftover combine with oxygen and form carbon-dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas. Hydrogen can instead be separated from water through a process called electrolysis, which is a completely carbon-free process. This is called green hydrogen.
Ammonia made from green hydrogen is called green ammonia.
The process for obtaining hydrogen is denoted by a color. Even though ammonia is always a clear, colorless gas, it is denoted by a color prefix dependent on the hydrogen source.
In the US, 92% of ammonia produced is “Gray”, generating millions of tons of carbon emissions each year.
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