Ammonia is made from manure and manure, and a company from New York wants to use it to power trucks and heavy machinery. For the first time, a tractor was converted to be climate-neutral.

Ammonia has so far been a major problem in agriculture. The foul-smelling gas is created when liquid manure and manure mix and is considered a climate killer. But this mixture can be processed into a cheap and climate-neutral fuel in the future. Start-up Amogy has demonstrated it, adapting its zero-emission energy system for a John Deere tractor.

The company’s module refuels with ammonia. The gas consists of one atom of nitrogen and three atoms of hydrogen, in the special modules of the Amogy it is split into nitrogen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then power a fuel cell, which provides electricity for the tractor for several hours. With five times the energy density of a lithium-ion battery, the tractor can work all day and quickly refuel when needed.

First test vehicle

In principle, the hydrogen could also be split off beforehand and then filled up as pure gas. But ammonia is much easier to handle than the insidious and explosive inert gas. “We are very excited to see our zero-emission ammonia propulsion solution in action for the first time in a tractor,” said Seonghoon Woo, CEO of Amogy. “Ammonia is a viable zero-emission fuel for all heavy-duty vehicles, but especially in agriculture, where the readily available chemical has been used as a fertilizer for decades.”

Own fuel in agriculture

Trucks and ships are also to be powered in a climate-neutral manner using this method. But in agriculture, the interest is likely to be greatest. Because only there is it possible to produce the fuel. Stable housing often has a manure problem at the moment, there is more “fertilizer” than is good for the soil and groundwater. The problem substance could become an energy source. Fiscal framework conditions also come into play here. This form of regenerative energy becomes interesting when it is not subject to the same taxes as diesel and the like.

There is also a rather irritating side effect: An ammonia-hydrogen drive would be climate-neutral, but you would hardly be able to operate such a system on an idyllic organic farm. Factory farming, on the other hand, would be ideal for continuously producing large quantities of ammonia. China’s pig factories have a capacity of up to two million animals, and a fuel refinery could easily be connected here.