Ammonia is an essential ingredient in the global food system through its role in fertiliser production.

But for more than a century it has been industrially produced using the Haber-Bosch process, which contributes heavily to global carbon emissions – around two tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of ammonia.

The Haber-Bosh process produces ammonia through a metal catalysed reaction between nitrogen gas and hydrogen from natural gas.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global ammonia production today accounts for about 2% or 8.6 EJ of total final energy consumption, resulting in a carbon footprint of 450 mt of CO2 – which it says is equivalent to the total emissions of South Africa’s energy system.

In what has been described as a ‘world-first’, scientists at Monash University have found a more environmentally friendly way.

The technology uses an electrochemical process to produce ammonia by reducing nitrogen extracted from the air and combining it with hydrogen extracted from water, with power provided by renewable electricity.

Seed round of financing set to transition tech to scalable device

New start-up Jupiter Ionics Pty has now secured an exclusive licence to develop the patented technology first invented by professors Doug Macfarlane and Dr Alexandr Simonov from Monash University’s School of Chemistry.

It has also recently closed a seed round of financing of $2.5M AUD to support the development of this world-leading electrochemical technology to produce green ammonia – meaning the ammonia is produced using CO2 free energy sources.

Jupiter says it will use the $2.5m investment to transition the technology from the lab to a commercially scalable device that can service a range of end users.

Charlie Day, Jupiter’s CEO says the current global market for ammonia is worth around $70b USD, but proposed new uses for green ammonia as a shipping fuel and a form of energy storage mean it could be many multiples of that in the future.

“This investment will enable us to fast track our development program, so we are well-positioned to meet the burgeoning demand,” he said.

“Australia’s abundant reserves of renewable energy position us very well to play a leading role in the shift to a low carbon future.”

The research team that developed the technology received grant funding from a range of sources including the Australian Research Council, the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Jupiter’s seed investment round was supported by local angel investors with experience in the food and clean energy sectors, alongside the specialist Agtech VC fund Tenacious Ventures.

Green plays start Tuesday on a high

There was little news across the ASX-listed green energy sector, but sentiment remained high for players in the nascent green energy space.

Green iron ore hopeful Iron Road (ASX:IRD) was up 12.82% to 22 cents at the time of writing followed by QEM Ltd (ASX:QEM) — which is studying green hydrogen opportunities at its Julia Creek Project in Queensland — up 8.33% to 19.5 cents.