2.B.1 Ammonia Production

Last updated on 10 Dec 2013 11:53 (cf. Authors)

Short description

Ammonia is produced on the basis of hydrogen and nitrogen, using the Haber-Bosch process. Hydrogen is produced from synthetic gas based on natural gas, via a highly integrated process, steam reforming, while nitrogen is produced via air dissociation.
The various plant types for the production of ammonia cannot be divided into individual units and be compared as independent process parts, due to the highly integrated character of the procedure. In steam reforming, the following processes are distinguished:

  • ACP - Advanced Conventional Process - with a fired primary reformer and secondary reforming with excess air (stoichiometric H/N ratio)
  • RPR - Reduced Primary Reformer Process - under mild conditions in a fired primary reformer and secondary splitting with excess air (sub-stoichiometric H/N ratio)
  • HPR - Heat Exchange Primary Reformer Process – autothermic splitting with heat exchange using a steam reformer heated with process gas (heat exchange reformer) and a separate secondary reformer or a combined autothermic reformer using excess air or enriched air (sub-stoichiometric or stoichiometric H/N ratio).

The following procedure is also used:
Partial oxidation – Gasification of fractions of heavy mineral oil or vacuum residues in production of synthetic gas.
Most plants operate according to the steam-reforming principle, with naphtha or natural gas. Only 3 % of European plants use the partial oxidation procedure.

The production decrease of more than 15 % in the first year after German reunification was the result of a market shake-up, over 2/3 of which was borne by the new German Länder. The production level then remained nearly constant in the succeeding years until 1994. The reasons for the re-increase as of 1995, to the 1990 level, are not understood; the re-increase may be due to a change in statistical survey methods, however. After 1990, production levels fluctuated only slightly. Since then, the rate of ammonia production has been stable.


There are five plants in Germany which produce ammonia, using both processes.

Activity data:

The activity data of ammonia is collected plant specific, because according to the IPCC guidelines the CO2 emissions are a key category. The AD are delivered based on a cooperation aggrement with the ammonia producers and the IVA (Industrieverband Agrar).
The Activity data of the producers is checked by the IVA and then because of confidentiality reasons aggregated and send to the UBA.

Emission factor:

For NOx and NH3 the default emission factors of the CORINAIR Guidebooks of 1kg/tNH3 for NOx and respectively 0,01kg/tNH3 for NH3 are used (EEA, 2009) [1].


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1. EEA, 2009: EMEP EEA Emission Inventory Guidebook 2009, TFEIP-endorsed draft, May 2009: page 13, table 3.1: Tier 1 emission factors for source category 2.B.1 Ammonia production - , URL: http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/emep-eea-emission-inventory-guidebook-2009/part-b-sectoral-guidance-chapters/2-industrial-processes/2-b-chemical-industry/2-b-chemical-industry-tfeip-endorsed-draft.pdf
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