Energy & Green Tech

Ammonia may be the key to making long-haul shipping green

SINTEF research scientist Andrea Gruber crunches numbers, albeit with the help of the supercomputer "Betzy." A seemingly infinite string of calculations is now answering open scientific questions about how a widespread and ...


High-speed infrared helps reveal safer hypergolic propellant

When SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule splashed down off the Florida coast in August following its first crewed mission, the two astronauts inside could not exit the capsule immediately. Technicians outside had to confirm there ...


Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building-block for the synthesis of many pharmaceuticals. Although in wide use, ammonia is both caustic and hazardous. In 2006, worldwide production was estimated at 146.5 million tonnes. It is used in commercial cleaning products.

Ammonia, as used commercially, is often called anhydrous ammonia. This term emphasizes the absence of water in the material. Because NH3 boils at -33.34 °C (-28.012 °F) at a pressure of 1 atmosphere, the liquid must be stored under high pressure or at low temperature. Its heat of vapourization is sufficiently high so that NH3 can be readily handled in ordinary beakers, in a fume hood (i.e., if it is already a liquid it will not boil readily). "Household ammonia" or "ammonium hydroxide" is a solution of NH3 in water. The concentration of such solutions is measured in units of baume (density), with 26 degrees baume (about 30% w/w ammonia at 15.5 °C) being the typical high concentration commercial product. Household ammonia ranges in concentration from 5 to 10 weight percent ammonia.

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