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First Ammonia Semi-Truck Competes with EV Fleets

26 January 2023

Amogy, a pioneer of emission-free, energy-dense ammonia power solutions, has announced the successful testing of the first-ever ammonia-powered, zero-emission semi-truck. After integrating its technology into a 5 kW drone in July 2021 and 100kW John Deere tractor in May 2022, Amogy has quickly scaled its ammonia-to-power technology to 300 kW.

Following an eight-minute-long fueling, the semi-truck, having 900 kWh of total stored net electric energy, was tested for several hours on the campus of Stony Brook University. Later this month, the Amogy team will pursue a full-scale testing on a test track to showcase the truck’s performance under various real-world operating conditions.

This latest successful presentation further proves ammonia to be a viable, sustainable solution for the otherwise hard-to-abate heavy-duty trucking industries, which account for 23 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions from transportation despite accounting for just one per cent of the vehicles on roads.


"Ammonia is an optimal fuel to achieve rapid decarbonisation of heavy transportation,"

– Seonghoon Woo
Chief Executive Officer, Amogy


The Goods Transportation Problem


Decarbonising heavy-duty trucking has been challenging, with alternatives like battery power lacking the energy density needed to replace diesel for larger vehicles and long-distance routes with minimal downtimes. Amogy’s ammonia-to-power system can enable the industry’s transition away from diesel-powered engines and to alternative fuel-to-power technologies.

Unlocking ammonia’s potential, Amogy’s proprietary technology enables the on-board cracking of ammonia into hydrogen, which is then sent directly into a fuel cell to power the vehicle.

Hydrogen vehicles are in development, but economic impracticality currently lies in actually transporting the hydrogen as fuel. Liquid ammonia has an energy density that is approximately three times greater than compressed hydrogen and it requires significantly less energy, making it cost-effective to store and transport.

Ammonia presents a clear path to a zero-carbon fuel value chain across all heavy-duty transportation sectors thanks to existing transportation and storage infrastructure. A global commodity, 200 million tons of ammonia are already produced and transported each year, making it an ideal and accessible alternative fuel.


Is There a Catch?


Amogy previously showcased its system implemented in powering both a drone and a tractor – the latest announcement comes with the successful retrofit of the semi-truck. Amogy has tested the vehicle for several hours but is yet to share full details of the performance. Amogy have not, for example, clarified whether the 900 kWh accounts for energy waste.

The system can store roughly the same electric energy stored as a Tesla Semi which takes 30 minutes to charge 70 per cent of its range, however, this does not necessarily equate to the same performance. Whilst battery power can be used directly and efficiently in an EV, some of the liquid ammonia’s potential energy will be used in the conversion process when splitting hydrogen and nitrogen, then converting the former to electricity.

Like hydrogen power plants, the typical process for ammonia production does create carbon emissions, so making the fuel “green” requires the transition to renewable sources that charging an EV from the national grid also does. That said, due to large investments in EV infrastructure, it is currently easier to come across clean energy for an EV than it is carbon-neutral liquid ammonia.


Next Step Tests 


“Beyond its incredible energy-density and liquid phase at an ambient temperature, ammonia is an optimal fuel to achieve rapid decarbonisation of heavy transportation because it is available globally with existing infrastructure already in place,” said Seonghoon Woo, Chief Executive Officer at Amogy. “

This achievement not only showcases Amogy’s technology as an accessible and scalable solution for trucking, but it also highlights the capabilities and dedication of our outstanding team. First, it was an ammonia-powered drone, then a tractor and now a truck. In the near future, we look forward to further scaling and tackling other hard-to-abate sectors, such as global shipping.” 

Following this successful freight truck testing, Amogy will continue to pursue strategic partnerships across the global shipping and transportation industries. This includes the company’s 1 MW-scale ammonia-powered tugboat to be presented later in 2023, and other commercial deployments with partners including a recently-announced inland barge retrofit project with Southern Devall. With several successful technology demonstrations completed and a dual presence in the U.S. and in Europe, Amogy is making solid progress toward its goal of reducing more than 5 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2040.

Picture: Amogy's semi-truck. Image credit: Amogy.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 26 January 2023


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