Aramco and Linde Link on Ammonia Cracking

21.03.2023 - Saudi Aramco and Linde Engineering have agreed to jointly develop new ammonia cracking technology and plan to build a demonstration plant in northern Germany.

“This agreement is part of our ongoing technology and business development efforts to establish a commercially viable lower-carbon hydrogen supply chain,” said Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s senior vice president and chief technology officer. “We believe the advanced ammonia cracking technology we are co-developing with Linde Engineering will play a key role in realizing our objectives.”

The venture brings together the partners’ experience and capabilities in industrial R&D, lower-carbon hydrogen and ammonia cracking technology. In the cracking process, ammonia is split into hydrogen and nitrogen over a catalyst. The technology is typically used in applications where hydrogen is required as energy or for downstream manufacturing. 

According to Aramco, a key potential differentiator of the new technology will be the ammonia cracking catalyst that it has developed with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which will be evaluated against other catalysts.

Linde Engineering intends to offer the ammonia cracking technology to both existing and new customers. It said the emerging lower-carbon ammonia business may prove to be key in bridging the gap between a country’s domestic renewable energy production capacity and total energy demand. 

John van der Velden, senior vice president global sales & technology at Linde Engineering, said: “Effective ammonia cracking technology supports the world’s urgent need for decarbonization. By completing the missing link in the export chain, cleaner energy can be shipped from regions with high renewable and clean energy potential to those with more limited resources.”

Linde is also working with SABIC—owned 70% by Aramco—and BASF to build a demonstration plant in Germany that will use electricity instead of natural gas to heat steam cracker furnaces. The facility at BASF’s site in Ludwigshafen is due to start up this year.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist