Ammonia as a hydrogen storage medium

Ammonia is currently regarded as one of the most promising storage and transport media for hydrogen. Large quantities of hydrogen can be transported relatively easily in the form of ammonia. At the same time, ammonia offers the advantage that it can be stored and transported in liquid form at atmospheric pressure and temperatures of -35 °C. This makes it particularly suitable in areas such as the transportation of hydrogen by ship over long distances or in places where a long storage period for hydrogen is required.

One of the hurdles on the way to using it as a hydrogen storage medium: ammonia is usually produced on an industrial scale from nitrogen and hydrogen using the Haber-Bosch process. The standard method is to provide the required hydrogen from natural gas via steam reforming. In global terms, this process causes more than 450 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Another challenge is posed by cracking – the splitting of ammonia into water and nitrogen. Existing technologies focus on centralized cracking, e.g. at ports. There is a lack of small-scale solutions for decentralized cracking, which offers several advantages: It enables flexible and direct use of hydrogen at many locations and can be more cost-efficient. This is because the cost of transporting hydrogen over the last mile to the user and local decentralized storage can account for up to 50 percent of the total costs.

Solutions and services from Fraunhofer UMSICHT: Producing and splitting ammonia more efficiently

Fraunhofer UMSICHT is working on more energy-efficient synthesis and cracking processes when using electricity from renewable energies. These include, in particular, electrochemical ammonia synthesis and plasma-based ammonia synthesis. The latter takes place in a sliding arc reactor with energy-efficient, cold nitrogen excitation using cost-effective non-precious metal-based catalysts and offers further energy benefits through synthesis at atmospheric pressure.

With regard to the decentralized cracking of ammonia, we are working on electrically heated reactors that heat the catalyst bed with significantly higher efficiency than in established processes: directly instead of indirectly via a jacket heater. This is also done using electricity, so that the system can potentially decompose ammonia with very low CO2 emissions.

Specifically, our services include

  • Development of methods and processes for storing, transporting and converting hydrogen into various derivatives such as ammonia, methanol, fuels or chemicals
  • Development of methods and processes for storing, transporting and converting hydrogen into various derivatives such as ammonia, methanol, fuels or chemicals
  • Development of electrically heated reactor systems
  • Catalyst development and testing 
  • Process engineering simulation and modeling 
  • Plasma reactor development

How to work with us

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You see a need for research or development or have become aware of a promising Fraunhofer technology: For example, your company wants to bring a material or product innovation to the market, have an internal production process evaluated and improved or respond to an anticipated market demand as quickly as possible. Then it makes sense to commission our institute directly with the development of solutions for your challenge. Together, we will clarify the framework conditions for how we can successfully advance your company with our expertise and infrastructure. The size of your company is irrelevant: our teams support small companies just as professionally with research and development services as clients from SMEs or companies that are listed on the stock exchange.


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Several partners along a value chain work together on a solution – usually within the framework of public funding. We can build on a large network from industry, research, society and the Fraunhofer Institutes. We are experienced both in the selection of funding programs and in project applications, contribute innovative ideas to the process and then shape the transfer to the market together with you and other partners.


Interested? Then write us!

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As with every new collaboration, things are unclear at the beginning: How does a collaboration with Fraunhofer actually work and can Fraunhofer help me at all? Will Fraunhofer charge my company for its research and development work and who actually owns the results of the collaboration? The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has already compiled some general answers to Frequently Asked Questions. However, our projects are as individual as your technological challenges. Therefore, if you have any questions, please contact us!


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Reference projects involving ammonia as a hydrogen storage medium



The joint project is dedicated to the development of building blocks for the carbon cycle: process gases from industry – e.g. metallurgical gases from steel production – are being tapped as a source of carbon for the chemical industry.


Performance Center DYNAFLEX®

The aim of the performance center is to be able to plan future-proof production systems. 

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