The University of Minnesota, through its West Central Research and Outreach Center on the Morris Campus, wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to harness wind energy (1.65mW) and convert it into a storable resource — liquid hydrogen — which can be used to run a hydrogen powered gen-set. This part of the process required the separation of electricity into hydrogen and nitrogen gases, the addition of dedicated hydrogen gas generation, and stand-alone buildings to house the necessary process equipment, dedicated piping, and classified electrical equipment.
This is the first wind-to-ammonia project in the United States.
When this part of the process was complete, NV5 was tasked with converting the hydrogen and nitrogen gas streams into a value-added process for creating anhydrous ammonia, a vital nutrient for crops grown in Minnesota. Although completed in large volumes in European facilities, this final step was never completed on a small scale effort. NV5’s task was to develop a viable mass and energy concept and find a vendor capable of producing a reactor assembly that could meet the project requirements. NV5 devised a flexible process, evaluated various catalysts, and produced the finished product.
The demonstration project was successful. The University of Minnesota’s research is ongoing, supported in part by a 2017 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy.