Plasma catalysis has recently gained traction as an alternative to ammonia synthesis. The current research is mostly fundamental and little attention has been given to the technical and economic feasibility of plasma-catalytic ammonia synthesis. In this study, the feasibility of plasma-catalytic ammonia is assessed for small-scale ammonia synthesis. A brief summary of the state of the art of plasma catalysis is provided as well as a targets and potential avenues for improvement in the conversion to ammonia, ammonia separation and a higher energy efficiency. A best-case scenario is provided for plasma-catalytic ammonia synthesis and this is compared to the Haber-Bosch ammonia process operated with a synthesis loop. An ammonia outlet concentration of at least 1.0 mol.% is required to limit the recycle size and to allow for efficient product separation. From the analysis, it follows that plasma-catalytic ammonia synthesis cannot compete with the conventional process even in the best-case scenario. Plasma catalysis potentially has a fast response to intermittent renewable electricity, although low pressure absorbent-enhanced Haber-Bosch processes are also expected to have fast responses to load variations. Low-temperature thermochemical ammonia synthesis is expected to be a more feasible alternative to intermittent decentralized ammonia synthesis than plasma-catalytic ammonia synthesis due to its superior energy efficiency.
- Plasma catalysis
- Process design