Ammonia-Powered Trucks? Amogy Wants To Lead

Hmmmm, call me doubting Rock on this one. Hit me up when they post some fleet sales:

:pushpin: Amogy has unveiled the world’s first ammonia-powered, zero-emissions semi truck.

:pushpin: Ammonia has advantages over hydrogen as a fuel source for the shipping industry, such as ease of shipping and storage.

:pushpin: The EPA has proposed new standards to decrease nitrous oxide emissions in the trucking industry, which is causing concern in the industry.

This week, the world’s first ammonia-powered, zero-emissions semi truck was unveiled, potentially signaling the dawn of a new era for the shipping and transportation industry. Like Tesla’s semi truck, Brooklyn company Amogy’s ammonia-powered truck holds about 900 kWh of energy. Unlike the Tesla semi, it takes just about eight minutes to refuel. And, according to Amogy, their new model has five times the system-level energy density of batteries.

For some time now, hydrogen fuel cells have been touted as the future power source of the shipping industry, but ammonia has several benefits in comparison to hydrogen. For one thing, it exists as a liquid at room temperatures, making shipping and storage a whole lot easier for ammonia than hydrogen. “Hydrogen either needs to be heavily compressed to around 700 bar, or else kept cryogenically cooled as a liquid, to just 20.28 K (−252.87 °C; −423.17 °F),” a recent report by New Atlas explained, before adding that, “both of these are energy-intensive processes.”

Like hydrogen, ammonia is only as clean as the energy that’s used to make it. But green ammonia holds great promise for helping to decarbonize some of the most fuel-intensive and high emissions industries that our economy is built on. At present, transportation is the single highest emitting sector in the United States, representing 27% of overall greenhouse gas emissions according to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And over a quarter of transportation emissions come from medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

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Nobody wants to be close to an ammonia leak. Quite dangerous even without any fire… basically poison gas. Not an attractive candidate to me.

“Although common in nature—both terrestrially and in the outer planets of the Solar System—and in wide use, ammonia is both caustic and hazardous in its concentrated form. In many countries it is classified as an extremely hazardous substance, and is subject to strict reporting requirements by facilities which produce, store, or use it in significant quantities.[14]” (Wikipedia)

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.


I once worked the fanciest bar in Richmond, VA. I started out as a bartender and very quickly the owners hired me to DJ instead of bartend.

The first night I took over was Wednesday Night, Ladies Night, and we had people campout with coolers - in line - waiting to get in to the packed dancefloor.

This went on for about 6 weeks until a local warehouse/recording studio, the Flood Zone, started booking this unknown C-Ville band, the Dave Mathews Band, every Wed. night.

Before long our bar was at 800 capacity, and the Flood Zone was at 1200 capacity.

One night, two of our barbacks were trying to clean a very sticky frozen drink goop off our floors, sorta end of the night.

The first barback liberally applied bleach, then his idiot friend added ammonia. I saw the cloud arise to my windows in the nicest DJ booth I have ever worked (room even had a fireplace) and locked the door. All five fire exit doors burst open, the 75 or so patrons still there right before closing ran like roaches when the lights turned on. Of course the two knucklehead barbacks had to be rescued by Richmond’s finest in Hazmat suits.

Whacky end of night that people still talk about who were there.

What have we learned here? Ammonia and Bleach will act like a quick toxic shot which will knock you on your can - and kill you - unless you have people with sense and protective gear rescuing those knocked out.

I sat up there, watched the whole thing unfold, waited for the “All Clear” from the Fire Department and eventually got out of there around 4:00 AM looking at the bar floor cleaned with ammonia, bleach, some kind of powder the FD liberally applied with hand held fire extinguishers. Crazy to see happen in slow motion as though I was a lone drone operator watching in horror.

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About 8-10 years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to own some Great Clips haircut franchise stores. We sold it because it was difficult to hold onto employees and I could see the handwriting on the wall regarding mandatory health insurance and $15/hour wages.

But… my story…

We had one stylist who poisoned herself mixing cleaners, including bleach (chlorine). We told her to NEVER mix cleaners, keeping it simple. She ended up doing it again… and we removed bleach from the store. Because…

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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Yes, ammonia is toxic. But its about like propane in handling. Easy to liquify under pressure. Much easier to transport than hydrogen, which requires either heavy cylinders at high pressure or very low temperatures.

With hydrogen, the major concern is flammability.

Another alternative is methanol which can be made from hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide. Again the hazard is flammability. Its also toxic if you drink it, but thats rarely a problem when handled.

Both ammonia and methanol are made from hydrogen. They require high pressure, energy, and capital investment–in addition to the cost of producing green hydrogen.


Paul, in your estimation, which of liquid fuels are the easiest to refine?

Any idea on flashpoints for:

Bunker Oil (used in cruise ships)?

In other words, what is easiest to ignite without any fuel injection or pressurization to turn something into liquid storage?

(Explain in kindergarten terms as this is Hellweek #3 coming tomorrow.)

:pushpin: Scientists have created a new type of solar panel that could help drive down the cost of sustainable hydrogen.

:pushpin: The new solar panel achieved 9% efficiency in converting water into hydrogen and oxygen – mimicking a crucial step in natural photosynthesis.

:pushpin: Zetian Mi, U-M professor of electrical and computer engineering, said, “In the end, we believe that artificial photosynthesis devices will be much more efficient than natural photosynthesis, which will provide a path toward carbon neutrality.”

University of Michigan scientists developed a new kind of solar panel achieving 9% efficiency in converting water into hydrogen and oxygen – mimicking a crucial step in natural photosynthesis. Outdoors, it represents a major leap in the technology, nearly 10 times more efficient than solar water-splitting experiments of its kind.

But the biggest benefit is driving down the cost of sustainable hydrogen. This is enabled by shrinking the semiconductor, typically the most expensive part of the device. The team’s self-healing semiconductor withstands concentrated light equivalent to 160 suns.

Currently, humans primarily produce hydrogen from the fossil fuel methane, using a great deal of fossil energy in the process. However, plants harvest hydrogen atoms from water using sunlight. As humanity tries to reduce its carbon emissions, hydrogen is attractive as both a standalone fuel and as a component in sustainable fuels made with recycled carbon dioxide. Likewise, it is needed for many chemical processes, producing fertilizers for instance.

Interesting reading material here. Ammonia is widely available, cheap, relatively safe, easily transported and used in so many different industries that makes it a solid option…doc

Uses of Ammonia - List of all the Important Uses and applications of Ammonia (

Any idea on flashpoints for:

H2? Lel 4.1%, uel 74.2%
Ammonia Lel 16% uel 25%
Methanol fp 52 f
Gasoline fp -45f lel 1.4, uel 7.6
Diesel fp 100 f
Bunker Oil (used in cruise ships)? Fp 444 f

Lel is the lower explosive limit. Below this concentration in air, the mixture is too lean to burn
Uel is the upper explosive limit. Above this concentration the engine is flooded. Ie too rich to burn.

The very narrow range of ammonia makes it difficult to ignite. The very wide range of hydrogen makes it extremely dangerous. And you see the range a gasoline engine needs to hit to run.

Flashpoint test open cup is easiest to understand. You heat a sample in a pan and report the temperature when a small flame passed over the surface abt ½ in above ignites. Flashpoint below 100 f gets a red diamond flammable liquid label.

If you have tried to light a fire with gasoline, you know that you can have feet of flammable vapors above the liquid. Hence, you get your hair singed if you try to put a match to the liquid. Ditto people cleaning auto parts with gasoline in the basement can have ignition of vapors from the hot water heater. But you can paint in your basement with a paint made with mineral spirits, fp 107 f.

Now days they measure flashpoint by closed cup. You inject the flame into a closed cup. Less obvious but less sensitive to air flow moving vapors.

Best source of safety info on materials is Sax, Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials. I have the 1979 edition. The numbers don’t change (unless the rules change). But newer materials are in newer volumes. (Mine is listed for sale on Amazon.) Or each material has a material safety data sheet (MSDS) containing this info.

As to refining, methanol and ammonia are made in high yield and easy to refine. Hydrogen by electrolysis is easy. From natural gas requires removal of carbon dioxide. The oil products get extensively refined in lots of equipment. They are much higher in difficulty.

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I think farmers of today would say ammonia is far from “cheap.” Nearly all is made from natural gas and prices are way up. Its the fertilizer they complain about most often.

Nearly all explosives are made from nitric acid from ammonia. Both military and commercial.

Urea is probably one of the largest derivatives. It can be used in lawn and turf fertilizer. They react it with formaldehyde to make a resin that slowly hydrolyses. This releases the nitrogen on your lawn slowly over months. Otherwise is washes away with the first rain.

Major use is urea formaldehyde resins used as the glue for particle board, plywood, wafer board and a variety of similar products. For marine grade products they use phenol formaldehyde resins instead. They have better stability in water. And yes, these products are a leading source of formaldehyde vapors in our homes.

Formaldehyde is made from methanol, another natural gas chemical.

So i got to wondering what is the price of NH3 and googled it up. In general the price of commercial ammonia runs in the $200-400 per ton range, but last year it went up to $1300 per ton. We learn so many interesting things here on the fool…doc