Kern County, CA – Grannus

UPDATED: 05/10/2018 — see Change Log

OWNER: Grannus LLC
PROJECT: Greenfield polygeneration plant[memberful does_not_have_subscription=”1314-ammonia-industry-annual-subscription,1311-ammonia-industry-monthly-subscription,3338-ammonia-industry-30-day-subscription”]

COST (reported): not announced
JOB CREATION (reported): not announced
START-UP DATE (reported): 2019

Ammonia 80,000 mtpy [Membership required] [Membership required]
Units: stpd, stpy, mtpd, mtpy = short/metric tons per day/year.
[1] United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Yearbook, Nitrogen gives capacity in metric tons per year, calculated as “engineering design capacity adjusted for 340 days per year of effective production capability,” rounded to three significant digits. Source: most recent year, Table 4: Domestic Producers of Ammonia,
[2] AMEC press release. Sources: linked below.
[3] [Membership required].
[4] [Membership required]. See Methodology.


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SUMMARY STATUS: Planning phase
Grannus has been working to commercialize its polygeneration “Eureaka Process” since 2013, when it was a runner-up for Sustainability at the Cleantech Open. In 2015, the company closed its Series A financing, to fund engineering and feasibility work on its commercial-scale demonstration plant in California. In early 2016, Grannus awarded the engineering design contract but then, in late 2016, gave the contracts to other companies. In 2018, the EPA designated Grannus’s hydrogen and ammonia production technology as “BACT.”

COST: not announced
JOB CREATION: not announced
START-UP DATE: 2021 estimate, originally Q4 2017
LIKELIHOOD: Possible — see Methodology

Ammonia 80,000 mtpy
250 stpd
82,781 mtpy
Units: stpd, stpy, mtpd, mtpy = short/metric tons per day/year.
[1] United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Yearbook, Nitrogen gives capacity in metric tons per year, calculated as “engineering design capacity adjusted for 340 days per year of effective production capability,” rounded to three significant digits. Source: most recent year, Table 4: Domestic Producers of Ammonia,
[2] AMEC press release. Sources: linked below.
[3] No permit application yet.
[4] Adjusted Capacity is in metric tons per year assuming operations for 365 days per year; based on company announcement. See Methodology.

FEEDSTOCK: Natural gas by partial oxidation
END PRODUCTS: Ammonia, CO2, Electricity

Grannus LLC, a venture capital-backed start-up, intends to build “the first ever, zero emissions combined fertilizer & thermal power plant,” with a commercial-scale demonstration plant in Kern County, California.

The plant was originally scheduled to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2017 but construction has yet to begin. Given a construction period of “18 to 26 months,” I estimate the earliest feasible start-up date as being 2021.

The Kern County plant will have an ammonia capacity of 250 stpd, or 80,000 mtpy according to AMEC Foster Wheeler’s press release from January 2016, which announced that Grannus had awarded the firm a contract for “project development support and design engineering.”

I assumed that AMEC’s involvement was geared toward a potential long-term collaboration, given that Grannus’s stated business plan is to “license plant designs to fertilizer manufacturers through an EPC ‘store front’ partner.” However, in November 2016, Grannus announced that it had awarded a new engineering contract to Air Liquide and, as I understand it, severed its relationship with AMEC. This release also specified the daily ammonia capacity of 250 stpd.

Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions, the engineering and construction business of Air Liquide group … will license oxygen-based Lurgi GasPOX technology and associated gas clean-up technologies, including a pressure swing adsorption unit (PSA) to produce high purity hydrogen required for the ammonia process. In addition, Air Liquide Global E&C solutions will prepare process design packages (PDPs) for the natural gas to hydrogen process.
Grannus press release, 11/02/2016

A couple weeks later, Grannus made a second announcement, saying that Haldor Topsoe would design and license technology for the ammonia loop:

Haldor Topsoe will license its ammonia loop, shift catalyst and sulfur guard technologies for the production of high purity ammonia. In addition, Haldor Topsoe will prepare process design packages (PDPs) for the hydrogen to ammonia process.
Grannus press release, 11/15/2016

Just a few weeks later, Grannus announced that its EPC partner would be Plant Process Equipment, Inc (PPE).

PPE is designing the plant in modules that will be fabricated offsite and delivered as easily transportable skids ready for final assembly at the plant location. The modular design will greatly decrease the cost and time required for construction.
Grannus press release, 12/06/2016

This modular design is not simply a cost-saving engineering choice, but a central part of the Grannus business model. Over the long-term, Grannus doesn’t intend to make and sell ammonia, but to license their ammonia plant design to other companies across the globe.

The California plant isn’t just a demonstration of the new ammonia production process, but also of the modular design package: if this plant can be shipped on skids and assembled in Kern County, it can be shipped and assembled anywhere.

If the capital and operating costs are low enough, Grannus could discover a significant market for regional ammonia plants, cost-competitive with world-scale fertilizer plants and their efficiencies of scale, but significantly more fundable.

“It’s our intent to replicate the California plant design throughout the world to further reduce capital costs and to streamline lead times for delivery,” said Matthew Cox, CEO of Grannus.

Ken Reynaud, PPE’s senior vice president, said, “The Grannus project is right in our wheelhouse, serving Grannus’ desire for a modular design that can be fabricated offsite and delivered anywhere in the world on a very cost-effective basis. The benefit will be ammonia plants that can deliver product on a regional basis at costs competitive with those of world-scale facilities.”
Grannus press release, 12/06/2016

According to a local news report from October 2016, the plant will generate 11MW power, with its byproduct CO2 sold offsite. This new “zero-emission” technology, combined with its small plant size, should make the environmental permitting process much faster, relative to a large-scale plant, reducing project risk.

(This swift-permitting assumption was temporarily challenged in the Californian courts by a group of residents and organizations who claimed that the project was “wrongfully exempted from environmental review.” They were suing to have Grannus’s existing permits and approvals rescinded, but I’m told that they withdrew their suit before anything happened.)

The company’s technology, dubbed the “Eureaka Process,” produces power by sending a hydrocarbon feedstock (natural gas, coal bed methane, or syn-gas), through a combined cycle gas turbine, and produces fertilizer by passing the exhaust gases and nitrogen, from an ASU, into a Haber-Bosch ammonia plant.

The Grannus process claims a “sustainability advantage” over traditional fertilizer plants because it will be “utilizing 100% of our emissions” – either by producing urea, combining the CO2 emissions with the ammonia, or by selling food-grade CO2, as will be the case in its Kern County plant. In addition, Grannus expects a series of system efficiency improvements and income from electricity sales to lead to lower production costs and “equivalent, or better” construction costs.

To understand the broader environmental impact of a zero-emission ammonia plant that nonetheless uses a fossil fuel feedstock, see my article arguing urea production is not carbon sequestration.

A Grannus power-urea plant would be “a quarter of the size” of a regular urea plant, which supports a local consumption model that reduces transportation costs and, combined with the system’s total efficiency gains, supports Grannus’s aim “to produce fertilizer at the lowest ‘landed’ cost in the industry.”

In 2013, the technology won acclaim at the Cleantech Open (“the world’s largest accelerator for cleantech start-ups”), when Grannus was a national finalist, and runner-up for the Sustainability Award.

The commercial-scale demonstration plant, under development at Kern County, was first announced in April 2015, when Grannus closed its Series A financing round. The $2 million investment allowed Grannus to complete “key engineering … feasibility and pre-development work” on the technology and the demonstration plant.

The Grannus Kern County polygeneration project is not associated with Summit Power’s proposed coal-fed polygeneration plant, Hydrogen Energy California (HECA), also in Kern County, which hit the rocks in 2015.[/memberful]

View larger map with all ammonia plants.

ADDRESS: South Kern Industrial Center, Bakersfield, CA 93311, United States




  • 05/02/2018: World Fertilizer: Grannus achieves milestones in development of hydrogen and ammonia technology [LINK]
  • 01/01/2017: World Fertilizer: Clearing the Air [PDF]
  • 12/06/2016: Grannus press release: Grannus selects Plant Process Equipment as its EPC Partner [LINK]
  • 11/15/2016: Grannus press release: Grannus Selects Haldor Topsoe for Technology and Services at California Environmentally Sustainable Ammonia Plant [LINK]
  • 11/02/2016: Grannus press release: Grannus Selects Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions for Technology and Services at Environmentally Sustainable Ammonia Plant in California [LINK]
  • 10/10/2016: Courthouse News Service: Residents Fight Ammonia Plant Near Bakersfield [LINK]
  • 01/19/2016: AMEC press release: Amec Foster Wheeler awarded US ammonia project contract [LINK]
  • 04/15/2015: Grannus press release: Grannus Closes $2 Million Series A Financing [LINK]
  • 11/12/2013: Cleantech Open press release: Cleantech Open Announces Winners of 2013 National Accelerator [LINK]

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