FERTILISER manufacturer Yara has signed deal with Nel Hydrogen with the 'shared ambition' of developing clean hydrogen tech to allow low carbon fertiliser production.

The project is based on Nel’s development of new water electrolyser technology that will be tested at Yara’s existing plant in Porsgrunn, Norway. The goal is to produce hydrogen from renewable sources to be fed into Yara's existing ammonia plant, which will either be used in fertiliser production or used as green ammonia.

“We’re excited to formally launch the partnership with Nel and work towards developing green ammonia and low carbon fertiliser," said Yara's Tove Andersen. "Yara’s mission is to responsibly feed the world and protect the planet. We have already removed about half of our direct GHG emissions in the past few decades, and we’re working towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Producing fertiliser with carbon free hydrogen will be a very important step towards that goal."

Initially, a team of Yara experts pondered how they could produce fertiliser using only air, water, sun, wind and rocks. The answer would have to be a sustainable, energy effective and commercially viable solution. Interestingly, the way forward was found by looking back into Yara’s history.

The electrolyser, nearly a century old technology that was made uncompetitive by the low cost of fossil energy, would be brought back into play to produce hydrogen from water using electricity. Nel is now developing their next generation electrolyser, and the prototype will be tested at Porsgrunn. The capacity of the electrolyser will be 5MW corresponding, to 1% of the hydrogen production in Porsgrunn. It is expected to be installed in 2022.

“We are very pleased with the partnership with Nel. Our ammonia plant will make the first small step towards carbon free fertiliser production," said Porsgrunn plant manager Jon Sletten. "When further developed, Yara Porsgrunn will be in a unique position also due to the low carbon footprint from our nitric acid plants."