The SOFC system using ammonia as fuel (source: IHI)
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IHI Corp developed a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system that is directly supplied with ammonia (NH3) and succeeded in generating about 1kW of electricity with the system.

IHI made the announcement May 16, 2018. It has conducted a verification test at its Yokohama Office and realized the system in March 2018. The company plans to conduct another verification test by continuously operating the system for long hours, aiming to increase the scale of the system for commercial and industrial use.

Fuel cells enable to directly extract electricity by utilizing the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. However, there has been a challenge in spreading the use of fuel cells: high costs of transporting and storing hydrogen.

Ammonia contains a large amount of hydrogen and can be easily liquefied, transported and stored. Also, it is sold as fuel and chemical raw material, and there has already been a transportation infrastructure for it. Therefore, it is expected to become the carrier of hydrogen energy.

The newly-developed SOFC system functions as a clean power generation system that does not emit CO2 at all when ammonia produced by using renewable energy-derived hydrogen is used as fuel. It converts fuel into hydrogen by exploiting the fact that ammonia is decomposed into hydrogen and nitrogen in the operating temperature range of SOFC. As a result, it eliminates the need for a reformer.

The SOFC system was developed by using basic thermal/fluid technologies and knowledge that IHI accumulated through the development of fuel cell systems.

The verification test was conducted for the "Ammonia Fuel Cell" research subject entrusted by "Energy Carrier" of the Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) of the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation of the Cabinet Office.