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Amogy Takes On Tesla Semi With Its No-Emissions Semi-Trailer

With an energy density 5 times higher than lithium batteries, Amogy has introduced "the world's first semi-trailer powered by ammonia and without emissions". With 900 kWh, just like the Tesla Semi, it can be refueled in about eight minutes.

Ammonia stores hydrogen better than hydrogen itself, in many ways, and could help clean up some tough energy-dense industries worldwide. The day before yesterday, on January 17th, the "Amogy" company just introduced the world's first ammonia-powered semi-trailer.

Ammonia has two main advantages over hydrogen as an energy carrier. The first is that it is a liquid at room temperature and pressure, which greatly facilitates its storage, transport and handling; hydrogen, by contrast, must be compressed to around 700 bar or cryogenically cooled to just 20.28 K (-252.87 °C), both energy-intensive processes. The second is the amount of energy it carries: by volume, almost three times more than gaseous hydrogen, and by weight, more than 20 times more than current lithium batteries.

Amogy Semi Truck, courtesy of AMOGY Inc.

It can be produced cleanly and used as fuel in many different ways, many of which do not create polluting emissions. And while it does have certain drawbacks, green ammonia is seen as a promising clean fuel alternative for industries like shipping, aviation, and other applications where batteries and hydrogen gas simply can't carry enough power to get the job done.

Amogy was founded in 2020 to accelerate the development of green ammonia as an energy source for clean transportation. According to information publicly available on their website, “…Amogy was founded by four MIT Ph.D. alumni that shared the same vision of innovating a solution for a decarbonized transportation sector. Their initial research led them to the realization that ammonia presented an immense opportunity in the transportation industry’s path to sustainability”.

The company soon discovered that due to its unique properties, ammonia is an environmentally-friendly, high-performance alternative that has the capacity to revolutionize the heavy-duty transportation industry as we know it. They basically say that by using their innovative technology “… Amogy aims to reduce >5 billion metric tons of CO2-eq emission by 2040, accelerating the global journey towards Net Zero 2050. By 2040, Amogy will eliminate ~5 Gt CO2 -eq globally, reducing 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions”.

The company states it had a 5 kW ammonia drone already flying in 2021, quickly followed by a 100 kW ammonia tractor in 2022. With the launch of the 900 kWh semi-trailer, they are now ready to bring their vision to the market.

Now Amogy has upgraded its ammonia powertrain to 300 kW and unveiled it in what it claims is the "world's first zero-emission ammonia-powered semi-truck": a 2018 Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 truck fitted with a Ammonia fuel system under the cab and also stacked behind it, which seems to add little bulk to the standard truck. It fills up in eight minutes and carries about 900 kWh of "total net electrical energy stored", about the same amount of energy the Tesla Semi stores in its lithium batteries.

As a refresher, the Tesla Semi is a battery electric Class 8 semi-truck, powered by three motors, and is claimed by Tesla to have approximately three times the power of a typical diesel semi truck, and operate at an energy use of less than 2 kWh/mi (1.2 kW⋅h/km). A Tesla Semi truck with 900 KWh battery capacity can go up to 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge, and can take anywhere from an hour to 12 hours to recharge; its charge time being dependent on how full the Semi's battery is and the type of charging station being used.

Tesla Semi, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

The Amogy semi-truck apparently requires just eight minutes to refuel and can travel up to 620 miles on a single ammonia tank. The truck has already been built, filled, and "tested for several hours on the Stony Brook University campus", and is scheduled to be tested for full-scale performance on a test track later this month.

In summary, with its 300 kW ammonia-powered semi-trailer, Amogy is paving the way for a zero-emissions transportation sector. It has the potential to revolutionize the heavy-duty transportation industry by reducing the global carbon footprint by an estimated 5 gigatons of CO2-eq by 2040. Thanks to its high energy density, it can travel up to 620 miles on a single tank and refill in just eight minutes, making it a potential competitor to the Tesla Semi and other electric trucks currently on the market


All images courtesy of Tesla Inc. except for Amogy Semi Truck, courtesy of AMOGY Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.