1. Farm Mechanization

Startup Develops Ammonia Powered Tractor; All Details Inside

An startup sponsored by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, has achieved a huge milestone by powering the world's first tractor using ammonia.

Chintu Das
Ammonia Powered Tractor
Ammonia Powered Tractor

According to Ars Technica, Amogy Inc., a startup sponsored by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, has achieved a huge milestone by powering the world's first tractor using ammonia. The tractor runs on ammonia as fuel, which is split on demand to power a 100kW hydrogen fuel cell.

Despite the automotive company's emphasis on battery-powered electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, the technology has significant limits when it comes to long-haul transportation and heavy-duty vehicles such as tractors. Batteries are undesirable due to a lack of charging infrastructure in remote locations where these vehicles operate, as well as the inconvenience of long charging durations.

These energy-intensive applications demand a power source that is dense in energy, and Amogy Inc. believes that ammonia meets this requirement precisely.

Use Of Ammonia As a Fuel

Amogy Inc., founded in 2020 by MIT Ph.D. alumni, aims to capitalize on ammonia, the world's second-most-produced chemical. Ammonia producing facilities are found all over the world, with applications in agriculture and industrial cooling.

Each molecule of ammonia has one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. When compared to a hydrogen molecule, the molecule has twice the energy and can last up to five times longer than a typical battery.

Ammonia is naturally present in a gaseous state, but it may also be liquefied, making fuelling ammonia-powered vehicles similar to how most cars are fueled today. Most crucially, burning ammonia produces no carbon dioxide, which is critical since governments have committed to becoming carbon neutral in the coming decades.

The Demonstration Of Technology

According to a press release, Amogy Inc. has previously proven its technology on a 5kW drone. The company showcased its concept in a modified 100kW John Deere tractor at Stony Brook University's Advanced Energy Center last month.

A regular liquid storage fuel tank and a hybrid fuel cell system that can split ammonia into hydrogen were installed on the standard-sized tractor. The tractor was then driven by the newly liberated hydrogen, and it went about its business in a farm environment. According to the press release, the fuel tank was replaced with liquid ammonia during the demonstration, which was a quick and efficient process.

Amogy's technology has seen a 20-fold boost in power capacity in just one year thanks to this successful demonstration. In a press statement, CEO Seonghoon Woo stated, "Amogy is at the forefront of efforts to develop zero-carbon ammonia as a primary fuel for these cars." "Ammonia has a high energy density, and there are numerous existing infrastructures in the United States and around the world, such as pipelines, terminals, and storage mechanisms, to support such a transformation."

However, this does not rule out the possibility of ammonia-powered tractors on farms in the near future. Over the next year, Amogy will focus its efforts on demonstrating this technology on Class 8 vehicles and transport boats in the hopes of eventually replacing polluting diesel engines.

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