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China is ahead in the automotive industry and presents a new ammonia-powered engine, promising to surpass hydrogen in the energy race!

Written by Valdemar Medeiros
Published 15/06/2024 às 00:04
new ammonia-powered engine
Photo: Reproduction/ Youtube

China wants to overcome giants in the automotive industry and presents a new ammonia-powered engine that delivers up to 120 kW. Understand how this new propellant works and its benefits for the environment.

China could revolutionize with ammonia engine, promising a new era in the automotive industry:
In an ongoing search for more sustainable energy alternatives, China has taken a significant step forward with the creation of a new ammonia-powered engine. This innovation, revealed by Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. (GAC) during Tech Day 2024, promises to mark a turning point in the automotive industry. According to Bloomberg, the 2.0-liter engine was designed to burn liquid ammonia efficiently and safely, presenting itself as a viable solution to reduce carbon emissions and promote a greener future.

New ammonia-powered engine from China delivers 120 kW

This innovation promises a reduction of up to 90% in carbon emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels. Historically, ammonia has been used in several sectors, mainly as an agricultural fertilizer, however, its application as a fuel in vehicles is relatively recent.

GAC's new ammonia-powered engine in partnership with Toyota is not a pioneer on this front, given that a decade ago, researchers from the Korean Energy Research Institute had already tested the AmVeh, a car that operated with a mixture of 70% ammonia and 30% gasoline, reducing CO2 emissions by 70%. However, the GAC is now exploring the power of pure ammonia as a fuel in the automotive industry.

The engine has a power of 120 kW (161 hp) and, although it still produces some carbon dioxide, emissions are drastically reduced. This new ammonia-powered engine from China comes at an extremely crucial time, given that ammonia can be produced more cleanly than other fuels and transported more efficiently. However, handling ammonia requires care due to its corrosive and dangerous nature for humans and the environment.

China bets on direct burning of liquid ammonia 

Other initiatives in the automotive industry are exploring the disintegration of ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen, using fuel cells to produce electrical energy, while others focus on modified combustion engines. GAC's strategy, however, relies on direct burning of liquid ammonia. 

The transition to ammonia as a fuel in the automotive industry not only involves innovation in new engine design. It is necessary to build a robust infrastructure for ammonia production, storage and distribution. This logistical challenge is amplified by the need to ensure safe transport and storage of this highly volatile fuel.

China's bet on this new ammonia-powered engine as a replacement for hydrogen and fossil fuels reflects the paradigm shift in the search for sustainable energy solutions.

As the global hydrogen market continues to grow, predicted to surpass $200 billion by 2025 according to CAS, ammonia is emerging as a viable competitor with the potential to redefine emissions and energy efficiency standards in the transportation sector.

Ammonia could mark a turning point in the automotive industry towards sustainability

The development and implementation of technologies like China's new ammonia-powered engine are essential to achieving significant reductions in carbon emissions. This technological advancement, together with the commitment to building the necessary infrastructure, could be a milestone in the global journey towards a more sustainable future.

Continued innovation and collaboration between commercial, academic and government sectors will be critical to the success of this energy transition. An interesting fact is that ammonia is a colorless, toxic gas with a strong, unpleasant odor. It has a pyramidal geometry, in addition to being the most water-soluble gas known precisely for the formation of hydrogen bonds.

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Valdemar Medeiros

Journalist in training, specialist in creating content with a focus on SEO actions. Writes about the Automotive Industry, Renewable Energy and Science and Technology

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