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You are here: > News > May 23, 2005

Ammonia Cracker for Fuel Cell Hydrogen Supply

ZAP and Apollo Energy's proprietary method produces H-on-demand from onboard ammonia. Touted as inexpensive, zero-emission power source to jump-start the hydrogen economy.

Adapted by Pure Energy Systems News

ZAP's "Smart Car"
(Zero Air Pollutionฎ)
Will be run on H derived from Ammonia

POMPANO BEACH, FLORIDA, USA -- ZAP (OTCBB:ZAPZ), along with technology partner Apollo Energy Systems of Pompano Beach, Florida, have announced the successful demonstration of a patented "Ammonia Cracker" technology for use as a method to power zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell cars.

They believe that their technology will pioneer the next generation of advanced transportation and energy technologies, offering a range cost savings and other advantages over other hydrogen fuel cell solutions.

Apollo's Alkaline Fuel Cells, derived from designs used in most major space explorations programs, are Hydrogen Fuel Cells that derive their energy from ammonia. Apollo's patented Ammonia Cracker breaks the ammonia down into hydrogen to power the fuel cell, said Robert Aronsson, President of Apollo Energy Systems.

Aronsson says, "The easiest and least expensive way to move Hydrogen from Point A to Point B is to use ammonia. Seventy-five percent of ammonia (NH3) is hydrogen. Ammonia can be added inexpensively as a component of today's gas stations, without costly hydrogen extractors, allowing the refueling of fuel cell cars today, years ahead of other hydrogen solutions."

In 2004, ZAP signed an exclusive licensing and distribution contract with Apollo Energy Systems for its patented Alkaline Fuel Cell, Ammonia Cracker and Lead-Cobalt battery technologies as a partnership towards the development of ZAP CARSฎ powered by hydrogen fuel cells. ZAP CEO Steve Schneider said ZAP will work with Apollo on the creation of a prototype fuel cell vehicle using a Department-of-Transportation approved Smart Car. Schneider and Aronsson said the Smart Car powered by a 60 kW Apollo Fuel Cell, equipped with an 8.7 gallon Ammonia fuel tank will have a cruising range of up to 200 miles per refueling with zero emissions.

"This technology has the potential to enable ZAP to offer a true zero-emission vehicle that can meet the transportation needs of U.S. drivers," said Mr. Schneider.

Apollo conducted a successful demonstration of its Ammonia Cracker technology at its facilities in Pompano Beach, Florida. Inventor Dr. Gottfried Faleschini was on hand to oversee the demonstration.

Schneider and Aronsson outlined their vision to demonstrate the new Apollo Fuel Cell and Lead Cobalt Battery in ZAP automobiles, in what they say would be the world's first coast-to-coast "Hydrogen Expressway" drive from Florida to California. Hydrogen required for the fuel cells will come from liquid ammonia (NH3), which would be stored in large tanks at gas stations along the way. The electric vehicles would "fill up" with liquid ammonia, which then feeds into Apollo's patented Ammonia Cracker on board the vehicle, similar to catalytic converters in modern automobiles. The Ammonia Cracker would extract hydrogen from the ammonia for the fuel cells.

Mr. Aronsson said ammonia-based fuel cell present important benefits over existing hydrogen fuel cell designs. "Ammonia is the second most common chemical produced in the world and can be made from natural gas or renewable energy," he said. "It is shipped by truck, rail, pipeline, ship and barge and is commonly used as fertilizer or in household refrigerators and can be competitive in price to gasoline. Ammonia fueling stations could be set up at very little cost, as the infrastructure already exists throughout the country. By making weekly deliveries of ammonia to gas stations in the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the U.S., ammonia distributors could reach 70 percent of the population.

Others have proposed equipping gas stations with mini-factories for producing hydrogen by electrolysis at a cost of $1 million per gas station.  But this design by ZAP and Apollo could accomplish the same thing inexpensively. The new fueling system would make it possible for thousands of ZAP hydrogen fuel cell cars and other hydrogen vehicle brands to operate throughout the country, silently, and with zero emissions.

About Apollo Energy Systems

Apollo Energy Systems, Inc. is in the business of developing, producing, marketing and licensing new energy products and energy systems utilizing hydrogen fuel cells, batteries, renewable resources and space sciences. Apollo has developed, produced, and field-tested Alkaline Fuel Cells and Lead Cobalt Rechargeable Batteries for which a number of patents have been issued with additional patents pending. The Company has also developed Ammonia Crackers for the on-board, on-demand production of hydrogen for the fuel cells. A patent is pending on these devices as well. For more information, visit

About ZAP

ZAP, Zero Air Pollutionฎ, has been a leader in advanced transportation technologies and energy products since 1994. ZAP owns the technology developed by Smart-Automobile LLC to Americanize the popular European-made Smart Car for the U.S. marketplace. ZAP Americanizes the Smart Car to meet U.S. federal and state safety and emissions standards. ZAP is not affiliated with, or authorized by, smart gmbh, the manufacturer of SMART automobiles, or the SmartUSA division of Mercedes-Benz LLC, the exclusive authorized U.S. importer and distributor of those vehicles. The Smart Car is manufactured by the global automotive company DaimlerChrysler. ZAP purchases its vehicles from non-affiliated direct importer Smart-Automobile LLC. For more information, visit For investor-specific information, visit To read or download the Company's Investor Fact Sheet visit

# # #


  • ZAP Press Release - "ZAP and Apollo Energy Demonstrate Proprietary 'Ammonia Cracker' Technology to Power Hydrogen Fuel Cells; Patented Technology Offers Inexpensive, Zero-Emission Power Source with Potential to Accelerate Growth of Emerging Hydrogen Economy" (; May 23, 2005)


What happens to the "N"?

What happens to the nitrogen which constitutes the remainder of the ammonia? Twenty-five percent by volume is a substantial amount of this element which must be stored and recovered from the converter. It is expected that fillup stations will be able to remove and re-sell this common fertilizer for various uses such as fertilizer. …NB: a Question arises: Is the nitrogen saved as a solid or released as a gas? In the latter case, what would happen to the breatheability of the atmosphere if the percentage of nitrogen begins to rise? Would people start to get “the bends” -- in a worst-case scenario?

-- Mary-Sue Haliburton, May 24, 2005

* * * *

Where does Ammonia come from?

Another question has occurred to me that at first glance may seem far out, but on the other hand if I thought of it, this will occur to others too.

Ammonia is a toxin eliminated by the liver and converted to urea which when fresh is a good as fertilizer. However, the bacteria convert urea back to ammonia -- accounting for the smell of the waste from hog factory farms.

On hearing about ammonia fuel tanks for hydrogen-powered cars, I'm sure that farmers may well put two and two together and start to figure that they have a handy and potentially profitable fuel source at hand in the effluent from these intensive animal production (it's hard to think of these buildings as "farming") facilities.

Other chemical components of the liquid waste would have to be separated, but if a way could be found to accomplish this, liquid waste converted by bacteria could become a fuel source, at least in emergencies. The biosolids could be precipitated out, for example. It's not "black gold", but any way in which farming could be made more economically viable could be welcome. I do recall reading about farmers burning chicken manure as an energy source, so there's a precedent for this already.

The question of what happens to the nitrogen component of the ammonia during separation is still without answer. If it's pure nitrogen it could be released as a gas, or it could be attached to the catalytic agent and therefore require further waste treatment.

Still wondering ... It would be interesting to hear from someone who is knowledgeable about chemistry discuss this hydrogen-from-ammonia and whether there may be any unforeseen consequences from implementing it on a large scale.

-- Mary-Sue Haliburton, May 25, 2005

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Page posted by Sterling D. Allan May 23, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." // "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." -- Albert Einstein

ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
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