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Project Grant


Grant Description
Plasma catalysis modular process for ammonia production.
Place of Performance
Louisville, Kentucky 40208-2708 United States
Geographic Scope
Single Zip Code
Related Opportunity
Advanced Energy Materials was awarded Project Grant DESC0021691 worth $199,999 from the Office of Science in June 2021 with work to be completed primarily in Louisville Kentucky United States. The grant has a duration of 9 months and was awarded through assistance program 81.049 Office of Science Financial Assistance Program.

SBIR Details

Research Type
SBIR Phase I
Plasma catalysis modular process for ammonia production
Plasma technology is revolutionizing the reaction engineering in various applications. Particularly, the plasma catalysis involving plasma reactivity and catalyst selectivity can significantly advance the distributed gas processing and chemical production. In this project, Advanced Energy Materials LLC (ADEM) is proposing to apply the plasma catalysis “PlasCatTM” process for the ammonia production and demonstrate a modular reactor system at near or slightly above atmospheric pressures. Distributed and modular production of ammonia is of choice for decentralized production for energy security, and monetization of stranded gas. Currently, ammonia is produced worldwide using Haber-Bosch process consuming about 1-2% of world’s energy production. Haber-Bosch process operates at high pressures (>150 bar). Miniaturization of these plants to modular scale will not be both energy and cost efficient. ADEM’s PlasCatTM process uses highly energetic electrons and reactive species (e.g., radicals, excited atoms, molecules, and ions) on specially designed catalysts to enhance reaction kinetics and enable thermodynamically unfavorable reactions to proceed under ambient conditions. The use of plasma helps in activation and dissociation of N2 molecule, which is the rate determining step in ammonia synthesis. The dissociated N atoms readily react on catalyst surface with hydrogen forming ammonia. The plasma energy can also selectively heat the reactant gas mixture and the catalyst makes the process energy efficient. The major goal of the project is to develop a scalable plasma catalysis technology for modular sized mini plants to produce ammonia at the targeted energy consumption. The Phase I work will demonstrate the feasibility by achieving three objectives: 1. Develop scalable NH3 production process using microwave plasma and dielectric barrier discharge plasma reactors. 2. Design and synthesis of Fe based catalysts with alkali promoters and bimetallic metals loaded on nanowires supports. 3. Establish the techno-economic process feasibility and life cycle analysis using H2 from water electrolysis and renewable energy as power source. The modular plasma catalysis reactor will significantly enhance efficiency of commercial-scale ammonia production from N2 and H2. The modular reactor system can be used at locations of fertilizer manufacturers, energy storage plants and chemicals production plants. This technique will find immediate uses in the industry without the high CapEx fossil resources. This project will also strength the fundamental plasma science knowledge and turning it into new applications. ADEM’s proposed technology will enable the development of plasma enhanced catalytic chemical synthesis with improved the energy efficiency and economic feasibility. Additionally, distributed ammonia production located closer to the end user can reduce logistic/transportation costs to mitigate the losses in economies of scale. Modular mini sized units are expected to help farming as on-site fertilizer production and use on demand.
Topic Code
Solicitation Number


Last Modified 6/28/21

Period of Performance
Start Date
End Date
100% Complete

Funding Split
Federal Obligation
Non-Federal Obligation
Total Obligated
100.0% Federal Funding
0.0% Non-Federal Funding

Activity Timeline

Interactive chart of timeline of amendments to DESC0021691

Additional Detail

SAI Number
Award ID URI
Awardee Classifications
Small Business
Awarding Office
Funding Office
892401 SCIENCE
Awardee UEI
Awardee CAGE
Performance District
Mitch McConnell
Rand Paul
John McGarvey
Modified: 6/28/21