SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Carlos Arturo Fernandez Otero
TIME: Friday, December 2, 2022, 3:00 p.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 295
TITLE: Developing Green Ammonia Infrastructure: Insights Into Operations, Economics, and Distribution
COMMITTEE: Dr. Marta Hatzell, Chair (ME)
Dr. Timothy Lieuwen (ME)
Dr. Richard Simmons (ME)
Dr. Matthew McDowell (ME)
Dr. Marilyn Brown (PP)


Ammonia plays a crucial role in modern agriculture, as synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers supply over half of the nitrogen input into croplands. However, ammonia production through the Haber-Bosch process contributes to 1.2 % of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions and 2 % of the global energy consumption. Thus, momentum has been building to transition Ammonia production towards renewable and electrified approaches. There are inherent risks and opportunities tied to adopting new technologies, and electrifying ammonia production will likely result in a new decentralized market for green ammonia.

This work aims to answer critical questions about future green ammonia and hydrogen infrastructures. First, I developed a multi-objective geospatial optimization model to study how to create photovoltaic-driven ammonia production infrastructure while minimizing production and distribution costs and water stress. Additionally, this work considers the effects of decentralization in the ammonia production infrastructure on increasing fuel and transportation costs. Second, this work studies on-site photovoltaic-driven ammonia production and how frugal design can help bring low-cost on-site fertilizer production to farms in the developing world. Third, this work optimizes the integration of electrochemical hydrogen production with intermittent renewable energy -- such as componing sizing, operation, and durability. Finally, this work considers how to leverage existing nuclear and green energy infrastructure for ammonia production in the United States, emphasizing water disruptions and distribution infrastructure.