The end for EVs before they really got started?

Haven’t a clue about these engines (or any others) so i don’t know if this is some kind of fake news:

Not to worry…

“Many are called but few are chosen”

The Captain

1 Like

NH3. So exhaust would be H2O, and oxides of nitrogen. Oxides of nitrogen are a component of smog, and have been controlled in vehicle exhaust for decades.

Nitric oxide is colourless and is oxidised in the atmosphere to form nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide has an odour, and is an acidic and highly corrosive gas that can affect our health and environment.

Nitrogen oxides are critical components of photochemical smog. They produce the yellowish-brown colour of the smog.

Are we really sure we want to increase NOx emissions?


The process that makes ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen is reversible. This should be a hydrogen engine that takes advantage of ammonia which is easy to liquify, store and ship. It is toxic as we learned in the recent fatal accident in Illinois.

Ammonia gets most attention as a clean fuel for ocean ships.

Of course green ammonia requires green hydrogen. Brown hydrogen is most common. Blue hydrogen still makes CO2 that must be stored.



1 Like

Teslas plants are a major advantage. They are built operating with newest technology and building cars. Startups will need deep pockets to catchup. And even ice auto manufacturers need major investment to convert their old plants or build new.

In simple terms that a mechanical dunce like me would understand is there any chance that this engine would be a commercial success?

Anything is possible. But I suspect not. For a few reasons:

  1. You still have to go somewhere to fill up each week or two. This becomes very annoying after getting used to filling up in your garage overnight, or filling a little while shopping at the supermarket, or while at the movies, etc.
  2. You would have to find an ammonia station. They won’t be generally available for a very long time if it this project does succeed.
  3. There are still substantial environmental issues and regulatory issues with storing ammonia anywhere. Especially on random city streets or highways.
  4. It has to be delivered to each location. Delivery costs money and wastes additional energy. And there’s also the environmental issues regarding delivery via standard roads.
  5. Just because it emits less CO2 doesn’t mean it is more efficient overall. I have no idea how efficient it might be, but I do know that electricity is generally 3 to 4 times more efficient than liquid fuels are for moving vehicles along a roadway.
  6. Ammonia isn’t cheap. It is likely to be an expensive solution for vehicles.

(not in any particular order, just random thoughts)


There is zero chance, outside of niche applications. Here’s why: Making the ammonia requires an energy input. Then when the ammonia is burned in the engine the process is only 30% efficient. So it will always be more efficient, and therefore cheaper, to take the energy input and use it directly to move the car. No way to solve that problem.

Now, a problem with many renewable energy sources is they produce energy when you don’t need it, and the energy is wasted (curtailed). Instead of curtailing that energy, you could use to produce hydrogen or in this case ammonia. Then you could use it in an application like a ship or a train that aren’t well suited to electric motors. Since the energy input is essentially free, that might make some sense.


Ammonia does require more processing than hydrogen. That increases costs. Ammonia is widely used by farms as a fertilizer. It is everywhere and in much of the US is supplied by pipeline. It is easy to store and ship. Much better than hydrogen.

As to ammonia vs batteries, it would be interesting to learn relative energy efficiency of electricity used to make hydrogen and covert to ammonia vs charging and discharging a battery.

You can also ask if the hydrogen goes to a fuel cell for electric motors or if its an ice engine with hydrogen as fuel. Can you burn hydrogen in a diesel engine?

Lots of questions for innovators to think about and work out.

Ocean going ships are being built to test the economics of ammonia vs methanol.

And in Europe people are talking about green diesel fuel or gasoline made from fermentation alcohol. That appears most likely as the source of green jet fuel.


There are about 3000 miles of ammonia pipelines. There are about 300,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. The natural gas pipelines reach about 60% of consumers. The ammonia pipelines would likely reach 1% of consumers at best.

1 Like

There are two drawbacks I see with combustion engines, A lot of the heat is wasted and the reciprocating nature of pistons waste a lot of energy in start stop (4 times each combustion cycle) vs. the continuous rotation of electric motors.

The Captain


From twitter -


I think you have hit on the reason Electric Vehicles are leading in the US. They have the basic infrastructure installed.

But we know it is not complete by any means. Not enough charging stations for travel. Need to install outlets for charging in many apartments and parking lots. And if many car owners switch to EVs we will need much more capacity, and probably new grid networks to bring green power where its needed.

Ammonia is probably second after EVs. The network is there and you can probably find places to refuel when you travel. It needs to be expanded.

Still well ahead of hydrogen which has none of the above.

Synthetic fuels from say alcohol probably can be distributed through existing service stations. Way ahead but fuels likely to be costly. Of course 100% alcohol is possible. But expensive. And reduced gas mileage. Shorter range.

Remember Betamax. After a while all these things will get sorted out. But we need to try several of them to see what the problems are and what costs are involved. Probably before we get to full build out. How long will that take? Maybe 10 years. We shall see.

Too bad if you bought a Betamax. It’s only useful as junk.


How many miles of regular, midgrade and premium gasoline pipelines are there in the USA?
How many miles of diesel pipelines are there in USA?

All of those products are sent down the same pipeline(s). One product is sent for a while, then another follows it. There is some mixing, which for gasoline is not an issue (mid grade is just a mix of regular and premium anyway). But even diesel (or other products) can be sent down the same pipeline later, and the “intermix” (sometimes called “transmix”) pulled off and sold to various customers who don’t care what they burn to produce heat for certain industrial processes, or it is reprocessed and sold.


Solar panels generate electricity where it’s needed. Renewables change the grid from utility centric to distributed.

The Captain


Massive investment still required to make it happen. Will it be in place by 2030? 2050?

Making the right choices will avoid the need to duplicate the investment later.

There is always a certain amount of intermixing between the first product and the second at the “interface,” the point where they meet. If the products are similar, such as two grades of gasoline, the resulting mixture is added to the lower value product. If the products are dissimilar, such as diesel and gasoline, the “transmix,” the hybrid product created by intermixing at the interface, must be channeled to separate storage and reprocessed.

1 Like

Winston Churchill had something to say about that, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they’ve tried everything else.”

The “Energiewende” will not be one does all, it will be all share to some extent.

The Captain

1 Like