Hydrogen, ammonia and a clean-fuel standard could help get the world to net-zero emissions

July 19, 2021

As for the alternate fuel focus, a future decarbonized transportation system will likely require net-zero or nearly net-zero-carbon fuels. These include zero-carbon energy carriers such as hydrogen and electricity, and potentially net-zero-carbon liquids that are made from zero-carbon energy sources such as renewables, nuclear power, or fossil combustion with carbon capture and storage (CCS), the report said. They can also include hydrocarbons whose combustion emissions can be net-zero on a lifecycle basis, if the carbon is sourced from biomass (that captures carbon from the atmosphere as it grows) or from carbon captured directly from the atmosphere through engineered systems.

Green hydrogen has found renewed traction in recent years though remains expensive enough that subsidies are needed in most cases. Billionaire Bill Gates has included hydrogen in the green portfolio he is backing.

Ammonia has several key properties that make it a possible option, though most likely for use in the marine shipping industry and not personal vehicles given its potency in high concentrations. One cubic meter of liquid ammonia actually provides approximately 50% more energy than the same volume of liquid hydrogen.

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