The West Central Research and Outreach Center has recently turned what was just a dream in 2002 into a reality today. The project began with a vision of capturing wind energy and using it in an innovative way; the end product was the completion of the Renewable Hydrogen and Ammonia Pilot Plant located in Morris, Minnesota.
The plant’s function is to ultimately create NH3 (ammonia). How does it work? Nitrogen and hydrogen are created using wind, air, and water. Nitrogen is pulled out of the air by pressurizing air to vent out the oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals to leave behind the nitrogen molecules. A current of electricity produced by the wind turbine is put into water, splitting the hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented off to leave behind pure hydrogen. After a process of mixing the nitrogen and hydrogen and then heating and cooling, liquid ammonia is created and stored at a low temperature (Morris Sun Tribune).
“But why ammonia?” you may ask. The answer is that it can then be used as fertilizer on farms in West Central Minnesota. Ellen Anderson, a former state senator, explained that now “Minnesota has the ability to show the world how to replace a barrel of oil” with a renewable source. The Morris Sun Tribune published a special dedication section about the project fully explaining the technology as well as interviews with those who spearheaded the project. It is a wonderful resource for those who are curious to learn more about wind to hydrogen to ammonia plants.
Title Image Credit: University of Minnesota, Morris
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