We are environmental and materials scientists experienced in the energy industry.

Our key team members have a long-combined background in the energy industry. We see the accelerating global transition to sustainable energy as a critically important and a unique entrepreneurial opportunity, and are taking a business approach to addressing this existential Climate Crisis that we all face today. WLS’s novel electrocatalytic reactor technology is poised to redefine global Ammonia and Hydrogen production, and utterly reshape the energy sector worldwide.

WLS is teamed with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to bring this historic technology to market. The UIC research team consists of expert staff from UIC and the Materials and Systems Engineering Laboratory (MaSEL): Dr. Meenesh R. Singh, Director of MaSEL, Assistant Professor, and an expert in environmental engineering and computational materials;

his doctoral student, Nishithan Chidambara Kani, who is spearheading the laboratory research; and UIC’s Office of Technology.

This new development will facilitate adoption of Hydrogen as the world’s primary fuel, eliminate the major barriers associated with renewable power, and finally enable a pollution-free and sustainable global economy.

 

We believe that 2050 is too late of a target for global decarbonization. By developing this technology, we instead aim to decarbonize the entire world much sooner, creating millions of new jobs and manufacturing opportunities in the process that will also benefit the world’s economies. Humanity urgently needs a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels that provides stable, reliable power in all regions at all hours of every day to fill the gaps that wind and solar simply cannot bridge alone. To this end, Ammonia is the way.

 

Why Ammonia?

Ammonia can be used by every sector of the worldwide economy – because it really is just stabilized Hydrogen fuel, or as we describe it: “liquid sunshine.” Every human activity – be it air travel, maritime shipping, construction, or anything else that is currently powered by fossil fuels – can instead be powered by our sustainable Ammonia fuel.

The preeminent advantage to Ammonia fuel, compared to other renewable energy storage methods, is the existing global transportation network and long-term liquid Ammonia storage technology. This is in direct contrast to pure Hydrogen, which would require enormous investment into new transportation and storage infrastructure, which in turn would render much of today’s global energy infrastructure as stranded assets. Pure Hydrogen fuel just doesn’t make economic sense, period.

But Ammonia is already a heavily traded commodity today, sold primarily for use as fertilizer.

For example, it is one of the USA’s largest exports annually, and is produced almost entirely from coal and natural gas (via gasification and steam reformation, respectively). Those antiquated methods of Ammonia production account for two percent of all global emissions. Our process instead relies on only three simple ingredients: air, water, and renewable electricity; alternatively, our cathodic catalyst can by utilized independently at wastewater treatment facilities to efficiently convert these existing supplies of Nitrate ions into Ammonia. The reactor itself is made from only Earth-abundant materials. When consumed in an existing fuel cell, Ammonia’s only emissions are the same as its inputs: pure Nitrogen gas, and pure water vapor. Ammonia fuel generates zero harmful pollutants and zero greenhouse gases. It will be the first truly sustainable fuel to reach the market.

 

Figure 1. Chemical Structure of Ammonia (NH3).

Figure 2. A visualization of the H-bonding that occurs in liquid NH3.

 

Additionally, the chemical structure of Ammonia sets it apart as a uniquely high-density energy carrier. Liquid Ammonia counterintuitively contains a higher density of Hydrogen than even pure liquid H2, due to each Ammonia molecule containing three Hydrogen atoms and an unbound electron pair, which allows the individual molecules to stick tightly to one another through a process called “Hydrogen-bonding”. This H-bonding is a unique chemical property that gives Ammonia a far higher density than pure Hydrogen (which is a nonpolar molecule that does not form strong intermolecular connections), and thus it stores far more Hydrogen in the same volume without the extreme pressurization and/or cooling required for pure Hydrogen fuel storage.

Ammonia is stable and dense, and has a well-developed global trade network in place today.

Pure Hydrogen is explosive and low-density, and will require enormous investment in all-new infrastructure. Change is never easy, especially at this scale – but basing the global economy on Ammonia will require the fewest and simplest changes of all of the available carbon-free alternatives, and this liquid sunshine will be economically competitive with all fossil fuels without subsidy. In short, the Hydrogen stored in our liquid sunshine can and should be used to power the next Age of Energy.