Monash licenses breakthrough ammonia tech to new startup

Wednesday, 08 December, 2021

Monash licenses breakthrough ammonia tech to new startup

Jupiter Ionics, a new startup aligned with Monash University’s Technology Precinct, has secured an exclusive licence to develop patented green ammonia technology invented by Doug Macfarlane and Dr Alexandr Simonov from Monash University’s School of Chemistry.

Ammonia, an essential ingredient in the global food system through its role in fertiliser production, has been produced industrially using the Haber-Bosch process. The current technology typically produces around two tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of ammonia produced.

Monash University scientists have found an environmentally friendly way, with technology that uses an electrochemical process to produce ammonia by reducing nitrogen extracted from the air and combining it with hydrogen extracted from water, with power provided by renewable electricity.

“Jupiter Ionics technology, exclusively licensed from Monash University, uses renewable electricity, air and water as inputs to make ammonia with zero carbon emissions,” said the startup’s CEO, Dr Charlie Day.

The Monash team’s discovery was published earlier this year in Science.

“Ammonia is recognised as a key challenge for global decarbonisation efforts, such as those that were discussed extensively at the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow,” said Jupiter Ionics co-founder and co-inventor of the technology Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor Macfarlane, who is also doing groundbreaking work on lithium-ion batteries.

“Our recent breakthroughs have opened up a new avenue to produce green ammonia which has several significant advantages over alternative approaches.”

Jupiter Ionics recently closed a seed round of financing of AU$2.5m to support the development of this electrochemical technology for the production of green ammonia. The company will use the funding to transition the technology from the lab to a commercially scalable device that can service a range of end users.

“The current global market for ammonia is worth around US$70bn, but proposed new uses for green ammonia as a shipping fuel and a form of energy storage mean it could be many multiples of that in the future,” Dr Day said.

“This investment will enable us to fast-track our development program so we are well-positioned to meet the burgeoning demand.

Monash Innovation Senior Director Dr Alastair Hick said the innovation ecosystem around the university was growing in depth and breadth, as new spin-outs such as Jupiter Ionics attracted new investors and entrepreneurs.

“This is a long-term vision for the university, and whilst we’re thrilled with the portfolio of spin-outs we have already, we see plenty more potential in the pipeline,” Dr Hick said.

Image credit: © Le Moal

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