Major new fuel source 'could replace any diesel engine globally and cut all CO2 emissions'

The ammonia engine

The LetAq ammonia hybrid system produces zero emissions

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 23/10/2023

- 16:09

When mixed with water, ammonia can be environmentally friendly

A new fuel could transform the internal combustion engine market in the coming years, with one expert claiming it could “replace any diesel engine globally”.

Paul Quickenden has worked with ammonia for around 20 years, as it can be used to store hydrogen, given the storage difficulties that still exist.

The ammonia-powered fuel cells were previously used to power mobile phone masts in off-grid areas.

However, despite the use of ammonia at the time, it was very expensive to run, with Quickenden saying it was not economically viable.

WATCH NOW: Ammonia could be the next big fuel type for vehicles

Speaking to GB News South-West England reporter Jeff Moody, he said: “One day the penny just dropped. Why don’t we just burn it in an engine?

“There’s nothing wrong with an internal combustion engine, it’s the fuel that needs to be changed."

After years of working on the project, the outcome was the LetAq ammonia hybrid system, which produces zero emissions.

Experts are also praising its competitive price and the advantages for the user, with it taking just two minutes to refuel.

Ammonia tends to be used fertiliser in agriculture, with more than two-thirds of annual production being used in this sector.

He continued, saying: “One of the reasons we've chosen ammonia as a fuel is it can be produced from renewables very easily and contains three times more energy than hydrogen, for instance.

“The potential CO2 savings are vast if you think of the industrial engine market. I mean they're everywhere.

“So I mean the CO2 savings run into the hundreds and thousands of tons every year. It's a very significant thing. I mean we could replace any diesel engine globally and cut all the CO2 emissions from them.”

The aim of the project is to supply directly to industrial markets in the next five years, with LetAq looking to move from research and development to establishing a manufacturing site, following the current round of funding.

Ammonia has not yet been introduced to a mainstream passenger vehicle market, with the only notable car being a partnership between GAC and Toyota.

GAC, a Chinese state-owned manufacturer, unveiled a prototype engine that burns liquid ammonia which could be an alternative to electric and hydrogen.

The two-litre four-cylinder engine produces 161bhp while emitting 90 per cent less carbon when compared to unleaded petrol.

At the same event, GAC unveiled a new flying car which resembled a large drone, as well as a hydrogen-powered minivan.

Two major ammonia projects are already underway across Europe, with expansion plans in Denmark and Norway.


Paul Quickenden

Paul Quickenden has worked with ammonia for around 20 years


One project in Australia, the H2U Eyre Peninsula Gateway Project, will cost around AUD$240million (£124million) and is expected to become the world’s largest green ammonia plant.

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