Ammonia Might Save the World... Again

Written by Luke Burgess
Posted July 21, 2021

The foundations of modern life were built on bird shit.

That's not an insult or any kind of disparagement.

It's just very much a fact.

Bird and bat excrement — or more appropriately guano — was an extremely important natural resource in the 19th century.

That's because, with an exceptionally high amount of plant nutrients, guano was critical as fertilizer to support the growing agricultural demands of the time.

And, of course, without agriculture, nothing happens.

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The problem with guano, like any other natural resource, is that it's a finite resource. There's only so much of it.

And with the global population rapidly expanding beginning in the 20th century, it became clear the world's guano reserves simply could not satisfy future demands. There just wasn't enough of it.

Fortunately the problem was solved by two German chemists: Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch.

Together these two men developed the Haber-Bosch process, which produces ammonia from air.

Previously, ammonia was only isolated in laboratories. The Haber-Bosch process creates ammonia... again, from thin air.

Why was this ammonia-creating process so important to agriculture?

Because this ammonia could be used as the basic building block to make a new kind of fertilizer, ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which could replace the guano manure.

And it did.

Ammonium nitrate fertilizers are still the global standard in agriculture today. And 90% of all ammonia produced worldwide today is used to create these fertilizers.

Chemical engineer Claudia Flavell-While writes, “Without the Haber-Bosch process, we would only be able to produce around two-thirds the amount of food we do today.

Haber and Bosch have already won a Nobel Prize for their work.

But their contribution isn't finished...

You see, ammonia is good for more than just fertilizer. It can also be used as a safe, low-emissions fuel!

Ammonia Might Save The World... Again

The Haber-Bosch process revolutionized the agricultural industry in the 20th century.

And now, in the 21st century, it's aiming to revolutionize the energy industry.

You see, ammonia can be used as a fuel and in low-emissions energy systems in several different ways.

Ammonia can be used to make fuels for traditional internal combustion systems and jet engines or as a fuel in solid oxide fuel cells.

In internal combustion engines, using ammonia-based fuels has many advantages over hydrocarbons.

Firstly, burning ammonia-based fuels is cleaner than fossil fuels. An engine running on ammonia emits nothing but water vapor and nitrogen. In fact, you can inhale and drink the exhaust from a car engine running on it.

But ammonia is also more stable than refined fossil fuels like gasoline. Ammonia is not highly flammable, making it much safer to use, transport, and generally be around than gasoline.

In solid oxide fuel cells, ammonia is the best choice to operate at high temperatures over hydrogen or hydrocarbons.

So why aren't we already using ammonia as fuel?

Simply put: economics.

The Haber-Bosch process is truly a modern miracle. And while it produces ammonia from thin air, it also requires enormous amounts of heat, pressure, and the burning of fossil fuels to get that done.

A modern ammonia plant is an enormous and complex web of pipes, towers, and metal scaffolding ...

Producing ammonia has consumed so much energy, in fact, it simply has not been economically feasible to use as a mass-consumption fuel and fertilizer at the same time...

... That is, up until very recently.

An inventor from a small town in Ontario found a way to produce ammonia without using any fossil fuels at all.

His machine cleverly makes it from nothing but air and water. No fossil fuels needed.

And now he's taken the invention public in the form of a tiny company that trades on Canada's TSX Venture exchange.

Governments all over the world are supporting these exact kinds of projects. There are several government-supported ammonia research projects in Australia, New Zealand, and Chile.

The largest is perhaps in Saudi Arabia. In June 2020, Acwa Power and Air Products signed initial agreements for a $5 billion hydrogen-based ammonia plant to be built as part of the planned $500 billion megaproject the Saudi's hope to use to diversify away from traditional fossil fuels.

So the upside for this tiny $53 million company is enormous.

Alex Koyfman, investment director for Microcap Insider, writes of this company, “Call it gasoline 2.0. This company's technology that's just getting on the radar now is about to change the paradigm of energy.”

He has recently put together an entire report on this tiny company which you can check out for free here.

It's one of the most interesting investment stories I've seen in years. Definitely check this out now before the rest of the market does.

Until next time,
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Luke Burgess

Luke’s analysis and market research reach hundreds of thousands of investors every day. Through his work with the Outsider Club and Junior Mining Trader, Luke helps investors in leveraging the future supply-demand imbalance that he believes could be key to a cyclical upswing in the hard asset markets. For more on Luke, go to his editor’s page.

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