Major new fuel source ‘shows great potential’ as alternative to petrol and diesel

Fuel pump

Dr Yang said ammonia was showing 'great potential' for future use in vehicles

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 04/11/2023

- 10:00

'It could become widely used in the future, depending on the cost and availability'

A new fuel source could be used in vehicles in the future with experts calling for more research and development to be done.

Ammonia is a zero-carbon fuel and has been touted by some as being a suitable and sustainable alternative fuel for the future of transport.

Ammonia is often used as a fertiliser, meaning ammonia production is already quite widespread, as is the storage and transport infrastructure of the fuel.

If it were to be adopted more widely, including for transport, governments and industry players would be able to build on existing measures.

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

Speaking to GB News, Dr Xinyan Wang, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Powertrain and Fuel at Brunel University, explained how ammonia could be used in the future.

He said: “Ammonia shows great potential for use in heavy goods vehicles, off-road vehicles and ships.

“It could become widely used in the future, depending on the cost and availability of the ammonia, as well as the maturity of ammonia engine technology.

“Ammonia is an excellent hydrogen carrier and its advantage is its high volumetric hydrogen density and the established infrastructure and knowledge of ammonia production, storage, transport and handling.”

Dr Wang specialises in dedicated zero and low carbon fuel engines including hydrogen, ammonia and bio-ethanol.

If ammonia were to be used for long-haul and passenger vehicles, there would not be any emissions released, with the only by-product being water.

The expert said there should be more research and development into ammonia as a viable option for transport fuel.

He added that it was important to promote its application in the bid to decarbonise the sector, with many countries looking at options to slash their emissions.

Ammonia can be stored and transported conveniently, allowing for the possibility of its use in transport such as long-haul vehicles.

Some companies are looking into the possibility of using liquid ammonia for a prototype engine which could be an alternative to electric and hydrogen as a fuel source.

GAC, a Chinese state-owned manufacturer, unveiled the prototype, which could produce 161bhp while emitting 90 per cent less carbon compared to unleaded petrol.

In partnership with Toyota, the ammonia-powered vehicle takes inspiration from the maritime and haulage industries, which are already testing the fuel source as an alternative to diesel.

Speaking at an event earlier this year, Qi Hongzhong, an engineer at the GAC research and development centre, said: “Its value to society and for commercial uses are worth anticipating.


Ammonia engine

Some ammonia engines are already being developed


“We’ve overcome the pain point of ammonia being difficult to burn quickly and put the fuel to use in the passenger car industry.”

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