Ammonia as an efficient COX-free hydrogen carrier: Fundamentals and feasibility analyses for fuel cell applications

Junyoung Cha, Young Suk Jo, Hyangsoo Jeong, Jonghee Han, Suk Woo Nam, Kwang Ho Song, Chang Won Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


A COX-free 1 kW-class hydrogen power pack fueled by liquid ammonia is presented. For applications in a practical-scale hydrogen production system in conjunction with a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell, Ru catalysts supported on La-doped alumina (Ru/La(x)-Al2O3) were pelletized by varying the lanthanum doping content (x mol%) to control catalytic activities. An optimized Ru(1.06 wt%)/La(20)-Al2O3 pellet catalyst presents a >99.7% conversion efficiency at 500 °C under a gas hourly space velocity of 5000 mL gcat −1 h−1. Various materials were screened to remove residual ammonia from the product stream, and the X zeolite was chosen as a highly capable adsorbent. Based on the synthesized catalyst and screened adsorbent, a power pack consisting of a dehydrogenation reactor, an adsorbent tower, and a 1 kW-class polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell was designed and manufactured. The as-integrated system can convert 9 L min−1 of ammonia into 13.4 L min−1 of hydrogen, powering a 1 kW-class fuel-cell continuously for >2 h without any performance degradation. To achieve autothermal and COX-free operations, heat required for ammonia dehydrogenation was provided by unutilized hydrogen from the fuel cell, drastically increasing the overall efficiency of the system to >49% while removing the external heat source, isobutane. Finally, a drone tethered to the system was operated, demonstrating the feasibility of an elongated flight time of >4 h, much longer than 14 min with Li-polymer battery loaded on the drone. The system is expected to meet the United States Department of Energy's 2020 gravimetric and volumetric hydrogen storage targets of 4.5 wt% and 30 gH2 L−1 at system weights of 43 kg and 50 kg, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-204
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 15


  • Ammonia dehydrogenation
  • Carbon-free energy conversion
  • Catalysis
  • Energy storage
  • Fuel-cell
  • Hydrogen storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Energy(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Ammonia as an efficient COX-free hydrogen carrier: Fundamentals and feasibility analyses for fuel cell applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this