ImpactAlpha, July 20 – Greening ammonia is among the next big emission reduction opportunities.
The gas, which binds with nitrogen in the air, is a key fertilizer input used around the world. It also has potential as a maritime fuel and a way to store and transport hydrogen. But the century-old process of making ammonia relies on fossil fuel gas and high heat, accounting for 2% of global emissions.
Israeli startup Nitrofix uses just water, air and a proprietary catalyst to make ammonia via a one-step process. That could bring costs down to $500 a ton, in line with conventional ammonia costs, Nitrofix’s Ophira Melamed told ImpactAlpha. The renewable-powered, low-heat process, developed out of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, mimics ammonia-producing bacteria, she said.
Large-scale green ammonia plants are starting to come online. Research firm Systemiq predicts a tipping point after about 50 plants are operational.
Unlike big centralized models, Nitrofix’s approach enables smaller scale, distributed production of ammonia, cutting transportation costs. “You can produce it almost anywhere near renewable energy,” says Melamed.
Boston-based Clean Energy Ventures led Nitrofix’s seed round. Also investing were SOSV, UK-based Zero Carbon Capital, Israel’s High House Investments and Morocco-based UM6P Ventures. The PhD-heavy startup will use the funds to hire and get a prototype up and running by 2025.
“Out of the many green ammonia companies we assessed, Nitrofix was the only company to disrupt the conventional fossil energy and carbon-intensive ‘Haber-Bosch’ approach and create an economic path to decarbonizing a global industry,” said Clean Energy Venture’s Daniel Goldman.