Morris, MN — University of Minnesota

UPDATED: 11/24/2014 — see Change Log

OWNER: University of Minnesota
PROJECT: Pilot plant[memberful does_not_have_subscription=”1314-ammonia-industry-annual-subscription,1311-ammonia-industry-monthly-subscription,3338-ammonia-industry-30-day-subscription”]

COST (reported): $3.75 million
START-UP DATE (reported): 2013

Ammonia None given [Membership required]
* Adjusted Capacity is in metric tons assuming 365 days per year (see Methodology).


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The Wind-To-Ammonia project at the University of Minnesota is a fully operational pilot plant, demonstrating the feasibility of using renewable energy to produce carbon-free ammonia.

COST: $3.75 million
LIKELIHOOD: Done — see Methodology

Ammonia 25 mtpy 25 mtpy
* Reported Capacity is in metric tons year (source: university presentations). Adjusted Capacity is in metric tons assuming 365 days per year (see Methodology).

FEEDSTOCK: Electricity

In development since 2002, the University of Minnesota’s wind-to-ammonia pilot plant was finally dedicated in July 2013. Two 1.65 MW wind turbines generate hydrogen on-site, using electrolysis, and an air separation unit produces nitrogen; these combine to produce ammonia in a small-scale Haber-Bosch reactor. Annual ammonia production is expected to be around 25 tons per year, based on using only 10% of the total power generated by the turbines. The project aims to demonstrate that it’s possible to create value from surplus and stranded renewable energy.

This project is in its optimization phase. Initial tests showed that the plant consumed 7 KWh to produce one pound of ammonia, or ~15.4 MWh per metric ton. (For comparison, industrial-scale ammonia production consumes, on average, ~12 MWh per ton, based on the energy content of fuel and feedstock combined. The newest, most efficient ammonia plants can achieve ~8 MWh per ton, which is very close to the technical limit of the Haber-Bosch process.)

In September 2014, the project reported [PDF] that 60MJ electricity produces 1kg nitrogen in ammonia. This energy is used as follows: 50% hydrogen production, 5% nitrogen production, 31% ammonia generation, 14% ammonia cooling.

Research continues, focused on modeling a “community-scale facility,” which would allow a Midwestern US agricultural county to become self-sufficient in ammonia, using renewable power from wind turbines. Their model assumes that 150,000 acres of corn would require 5,500 metric tons of ammonia per year. To meet this demand, a wind-to-ammonia plant would need to produce “roughly 630kg per hour NH3 (520kg N),” requiring a constant power supply of 7.4MW, equivalent to “8-15 Turbines depending on scenario.” [/memberful]

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ADDRESS: University of Minnesota, West Central Research and Outreach Center, 46352 State Highway 329, Morris, Minnesota 56267, United States


  • ONGOING: NH3 Fuel Association Wind-to-Ammonia project page [LINK]
  • 07/30/2013: AgriNews news article: WCROC generates anhydrous ammonia at new hydrogen and ammonia pilot plant [LINK]
  • 07/12/2013: Morris Sun Tribune local new article: WCROC celebrates renewable fertilizer pilot plant at dedication [LINK]

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