Ammonia-based Fuel Source Set Revolutionize Green Energy
Green NH3: Introducing tomorrow’s energy alternative today
By Mark Teo, Staff Writer
Ask the Wright brothers or Xerox, and they’ll tell you the same thing: The world of invention isn’t a meritocracy. The Wrights, after all, flew their first plane in 1903, yet the technology wasn’t widely adopted until a decade later. Chester Carlson, the man who revolutionized the pencil-pushing office-sphere, had photocopying technology in 1939; two decades on, Xerox would rise to prominence. And the same logic applies to green fuels—gasoline alternatives now exist. Good ones, too. Yet despite the demand for sustainable energy, no clear-cut solution has emerged.
Enter Roger Gordon, an Ontario-based inventor by way of the pharmaceutical industry. He owns Green NH3, a company that has invested time, money, and good ole-fashioned sweat into a machine that generates fuel that’s cheap, clean, and renewable: The answer, he says, lies in NH3. Or for the chemistry-challenged, ammonia.
But it’s not just plain ammonia, which is usually derived from coal or animal waste. It’s generated using only air and water. No, this isn’t a lie.
“We have a technology that works. It’s not short on anything,” says Gordon. “It’s a machine the size of a refrigerator, and it connects with a storage tank. You don’t have to power it with regular grid power, too. If you’re a big enough operation, like a trucking company, you could have your own windmill and could turn that electricity into NH3.
“A large truck or plane won’t run on a battery,” he adds, acknowledging the limitations of electric cars. “But they can run on ammonia. NH3 is energy dense.”
But it isn’t only a renewable energy source. It’s a superior source of energy to gasoline period. Unlike the oil sands, whose extraction process is dirty and expensive, NH3 is renewable and leaves zero carbon footprint. Unlike gasoline—and we don’t need to remind drivers about gas prices—it’s shockingly cheap, at 50 cents a litre. (Meanwhile, Peak Oil, when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction occurs, is expected globally within the next several years.) And with the tragedy of Lac Mégnatic explosion still fresh, it’s worth adding that NH3 is also extremely safe: Gordon’s NH3 is manufactured where it’s used, meaning there’s no transportation involved, and it’s not volatile like hydrogen, which is often touted as the green fuel of the future.
It’s a superior technology with—and we’re not editorializing—game-changing consequences. Especially, adds Gordon, in the transportation and agribusiness sector, who both are historic gas guzzlers, or remote areas like the north who pay up to $5 a liter.
“There’s a lot of spin about whether climate change is happening, but truthfully, if people could spend the same price for a product that’s good for the environment, they would,” he says. “But I’m against a lot of the people who protest the Keystone pipeline, because they’re not giving alternatives. What people should be thinking about is moving forward with technologies that aren’t the oil sands. Rather than saying the tar sands and pipelines are bad, we should be saying, ‘Here’s the working alternative.’”
For his part, though, Gordon isn’t simplifying the energy debate: He understands that big oil has influence. He understands that petroleum products are still ubiquitous. And he understands that, at present, the Canadian government tends to sympathize the oil industry for reasons most see as obvious after a little research on the leader.
But Gordon doesn’t talk long about the negatives. He’s more focused on the positives of the technology: He’s developed his NH3-producing machine, and the technology has been functional since 2009. He’s powered planes, freight trains, and automobiles with NH3, and estimates that retrofitting vehicles costs between $1,000-$1,500.