: Are ammonia-powered data centers the future?

Jul 15, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

As the race for more sustainable power options continues in the data center industry, a raft of alternatives have been proposed, from solar to green hydrogen. However, perhaps one option that few expected is ammonia, which is now being pegged as the next major renewable fuel. Joel Moser, CEO of First Ammonia, for example, has said he thinks this move to 'green ammonia' will help Europe "directly meet almost 30% of its 35 BCM" reduction target by 2030.

Fujitsu has reportedly been working with Icelandic startup Atmonia for the last few months,  to find better catalysts to create a more sustainable production process for Ammonia. As it stands, Ammonia production is not a so-called "green option," and made through the Haber-Bosch process, which reacts hydrogen and nitrogen together, and generates around 1.8 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. This is because the process results in the production of "brown ammonia," which has a huge carbon footprint. 

When the project was announced back in April, in a statement, the company said: "Retrofitting the industrial process to use hydrogen sourced from electrolysis of water is possible. However, this is a more energy intensive route and does not fit well with the intermittent nature of renewable sourced electricity (such as solar/wind) as the Haber-Bosch process requires a continuous source of hydrogen to maintain operation of the downstream processes, which in turn requires uninterrupted source of electricity." So, Atmonia is seeking to find a way to produce it using "protons from water and nitrogen from air."

Commenting on the project to The Register, Fujitsu Research Senior Director Surya Josyula said: "Fujitsu, as you can imagine, operates datacenters all over the world to power our own internal businesses. And we also run datacenters on behalf of our customers. So what we are currently researching is, once we have green ammonia produced, how can we power our data centers and use that as a backup power source or even a primary power source?"

Josyula went on to see that green ammonia is "logical fit," as a solution to when solar and wind are not available."

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