Producing Hydrogen from Ammonia

STFC, a leading UK research organisation has successfully developed a method of producing hydrogen from ammonia. This method is a breakthrough in Hydrogen powered fuel cell and internal combustion engine (ICE) technology.




Hydrogen storage is one of the main scientific and technological challenges in the automotive industry’s move towards non-fossil fuel based sources.  Many criteria must be satisfied: storage must not only be lightweight and compact, but also safe, inexpensive, long-range and, ideally, rapidly refuellable.  On-site generation of hydrogen has been considered for use in a fuel cell.  The hydrogen may be formed, for example, from methanol or methane.  However, such methods inevitably lead to carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions. 

STFC has developed a method, wherein ammonia is used as a fuel source and introduced into a in-situ reactor and reacting it with a metal or metal containing compound leading to formation of an intermediate. The intermediate then decomposes into hydrogen and is also used to regenerate the metal containing compound for further cycles. The hydrogen thus generated is used in a fuel cell or an ICE.

Metals such as sodium, lithium or potassium, and metal containing compounds such as hydrides, nitrides or imides are preferred. A metal amide is formed as the intermediate which later decomposes. The method allows for the use of lower temperatures for ammonia cracking as well as the use of cheaper activating agents.



The reaction of a metal or metal containing compound with ammonia to form an intermediate that produces H2 as well regenerates the reactant.



The method is thermodynamically spontaneous, leading to low cracking temperatures.

Uses well established Ammonia distribution networks allowing for rapid and easy refuelling.

Ammonia has a high capacity for hydrogen storage, 17.65 wt% based on its molecular structure.


Patent Information:
Country Serial No.
United Kingdom 12780258.5
Germany 12780258.5
France 12780258.5
Japan 2014-536323
United States 14/351,453
European Patent Office 12780258.5
China 201280061034.0
For Information, Contact:
Liam Brennan
Innovation Manager
STFC Innovations
02.i. Transport & Shipping Technology
04.a. Energy storage and transport
04.b. Energy production