Chemical formula for hydrogen gas (dihydrogen)

Sterling TT partners on Waste Heat Recovery for a greener future!

Sterling TT is proud to announce that we’re joining forces with a few OEMs to deliver a cutting-edge Waste Heat Recovery (WHR) system!

“These projects perfectly align with our unwavering commitment to designing and manufacturing bespoke heat exchangers that support the energy transition. At Sterling TT, we’re passionate about working towards a more sustainable future, and these projects are a step forward,” Commented Olu Baptist, Commercial Director at Sterling TT.

The exciting application for this type of WHR system involves an NH3 cracker, further solidifying our dedication to innovation in clean energy solutions! We help transform ammonia (NH3), an odourless and gas colourless with a pungent smell, into a green source of energy.

What is an NH3 cracker?

Also known as an ammonia cracker or hydrogen generator, an NH3 cracker is a device used to convert ammonia (NH3) into its constituent elements: hydrogen (H2) and nitrogen (N2).

Mile Vujicic, Application Engineering Director at Sterling Thermal Technology“The process works by reversing the ammonia synthesis reaction at high temperatures with the help of a catalyst. The resulting gas mixture is mainly composed of hydrogen and nitrogen in a mix with trace amounts of ammonia,” said Mile Vujičić, Application Engineering Director at Sterling TT. This gas can then be further purified to remove any remaining ammonia for applications requiring high-purity hydrogen.

Where are NH3 crackers used?

NH3 crackers are mainly used in industrial applications where the presence of nitrogen in the final product is acceptable. Some examples include:

  • annealing furnaces with reduced atmosphere for steel treatment,
  • sintering and brazing of metals,
  • hydrogenation of oil,
  • as a source of hydrogen for fuel cells (after proper purification).

Role of Sterling TT’s heat exchangers

In an NH3 cracker, the heat exchanger is critical in boosting efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Here’s how it works:

Preheating the ammonia feed

The ammonia (NH3) entering the cracker is at ambient temperature. The heat exchanger utilises the hot cracked gas stream (coming out of the reactor) to preheat the incoming ammonia feed. This preheating significantly reduces the energy required in the furnace to reach the cracking temperature. It’s like pre-warming your oven before putting in a dish – reaching the final cooking temperature takes less energy.

Heat recovery and energy efficiency

The cracking process generates a lot of heat. The heat exchanger captures this heat from the cracked gas stream, which would otherwise be wasted. As mentioned earlier, this captured heat is transferred to the incoming ammonia feed, preheating it. It creates a closed-loop system that maximises heat utilisation and significantly improves the overall efficiency of the NH3 cracker.

By strategically using a heat exchanger, NH3 crackers can achieve:

  • Lower operating costs – Reduced energy consumption translates to lower operational costs for the cracker.
  • Environmentally friendly operation The cracker minimises its environmental footprint by utilising waste heat.

So, the heat exchanger in an NH3 cracker acts as a clever heat recycler, taking advantage of the system’s inherent thermal energy to optimise performance and minimise energy waste.

As the world races towards cleaner energy sources, a game–changer is emerging—ammonia cracking! This innovative method for delivering hydrogen is gaining serious momentum, and for a good reason. Ammonia’s global production, transportation, and storage infrastructure already exist! It’s like having a network of hydrogen pipelines already in place, just waiting to be unlocked. Imagine this: efficient, long-distance transport of clean-burning hydrogen, all thanks to the power of ammonia cracking. This isn’t just a future possibility – it’s happening now and incredibly exciting!

Do you need help with your Waste Heat Recovery application? Contact us


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