Monolith Plans Carbon-free Ammonia Plant

13.10.2020 - US clean technology company Monolith Materials has announced plans build a 275,000 t/y carbon-free ammonia plant using proprietary technology.

The new facility will be built in Hallam, Nebraska, where Monolith is currently commissioning its first commercial-scale carbon-free plant, called Olive Creek 1 (OC1), which will produce about 14,000 t/y of carbon black.

The ammonia plant will be integrated with a new, 180,000 t/y carbon black plant, known as Olive Creek 2 (OC2). Construction of OC2 is expected to start in 2021, with start-up said to be scheduled for 2024.

Based on renewable electricity, Monolith’s proprietary technology uses methane pyrolysis to split the molecules into carbon and hydrogen. The “turquoise” hydrogen is combined with nitrogen to make ammonia using the Haber-Bosch process. Monolith said the process generates no CO2 and it expects to create 3 t of clean carbon black for every 1 t of hydrogen produced.

Combined, Monolith’s carbon-free ammonia and carbon black production is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 1 million t/y compared with traditional manufacturing processes.

According to the company, current ammonia production practices account for approximately 1% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, or roughly equivalent to the UK’s total emissions.

“Since its inception, Monolith Materials has been committed to developing solutions that are environmentally transformative, technologically advanced and financially viable,” said company CEO and co-founder, Rob Hanson. “Being able to produce one of the world's most essential products in a way that is carbon-free is a significant step not only for our company, but for the industry and even society as a whole.”

Ammonia from the new plant will be sold to farmers in the US Corn Belt, such as Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska and neighboring states, which together import more than 1.7 million t/y of the fertilizer building block.

“This is great news for 21st-Century agriculture, where we face the challenge of decarbonizing age-old processes at the same time as we must scale up production to keep pace with population growth,” said Trevor Brown, executive director of the Ammonia Energy Association. “We need to deploy every available technology to accelerate this energy transition and Monolith's methane pyrolysis process has potential to deliver low-carbon ammonia in the right place at the right scale and at the right cost.”

Monolith is backed by US private equity investors Azimuth Capital Management, Cornell Capital and Warburg Pincus.


Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist