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Nuclear Energy for Sustainable Agriculture: Danish Companies Lead the Way in Fertilizer Production

3 mins read

Key Takeaways:

  • Four Danish companies, Topsoe, Alfa Laval, Copenhagen Atomics, and Aalborg CSP, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesian ammonia producer Pupuk Kaltim to build a facility in Bontang that can produce one million tonnes of ultra-low emission ammonia per year.
  • The facility, powered by nuclear energy from Copenhagen Atomics, will save 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year compared to natural gas-based fertilizer production.
  • Topsoe will supply newly developed electrolysis cell technology for efficient hydrogen production, Alfa Laval will provide heat exchangers and desalination systems, and Aalborg CSP will deliver thermal energy storage technology for integration with the energy production from small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Revolutionary Partnership: Danish Companies Join Forces to Supply Fertilizer to Feed Millions in Indonesia

In a groundbreaking collaboration, four Danish companies have forged a strategic partnership with Indonesian ammonia producer Pupuk Kaltim to build a facility capable of producing ultra-low emission ammonia. This monumental venture aims to supply fertilizer to feed approximately 45 million people in Indonesia, while significantly reducing CO2 emissions. By leveraging nuclear power and advanced technologies, this initiative exemplifies the future of sustainable agricultural practices.

A Green Solution for Fertilizer Production

Four prominent Danish companies, Topsoe, Alfa Laval, Copenhagen Atomics, and Aalborg CSP, have come together to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time: sustainable fertilizer production. Their joint efforts aim to build a facility in Bontang, Indonesia, with a capacity to produce one million tonnes of ultra-low emission ammonia annually. This vast quantity of ammonia will support the production of food for approximately 45 million people, representing about one-sixth of Indonesia’s population.

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A Paradigm Shift: Nuclear-Powered Facility

What sets this facility apart is its innovative use of nuclear power from Danish company Copenhagen Atomics. As part of the global race to supply small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), Copenhagen Atomics aims to incorporate its modular molten salt thorium reactors into the facility. The nuclear power plant, with a capacity of 1 GW, will consist of 25 SMRs and is expected to operate for 50 years. By harnessing nuclear energy, the facility will not only ensure a sustainable and reliable power supply but also eliminate the emission of approximately 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year compared to traditional natural gas-based fertilizer production.

Leading the Way: Technology Contributions

Each of the four Danish companies brings its expertise to the partnership, contributing vital technologies to enable the facility’s success:

  1. Topsoe’s Advanced Electrolysis Cells: Topsoe will supply state-of-the-art electrolysis cell technology called Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOEC). This cutting-edge technology significantly improves the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of hydrogen production, which is an intermediate stage in ammonia production.
  2. Alfa Laval’s Heat Exchangers and Desalination Systems: Alfa Laval, a renowned leader in energy-efficient heat transfer solutions, will provide heat exchangers to optimize the energy balance of the facility. Additionally, their desalination systems will ensure the production of ultra-pure water required for the electrolysis process.
  3. Aalborg CSP’s Thermal Energy Storage Technology: Aalborg CSP, known for its expertise in thermal energy storage systems, will design and supply Molten Salt-based Steam Boilers. These systems will play a crucial role in balancing energy production from the SMR modules, integrating electricity production, waste heat, and the production of ultra-clean water.
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Promising Outlook: Economic and Environmental Impact

While the overall project’s economic details are still being finalized, the construction of the facility is estimated to cost around USD 4 billion. Over its lifetime, the facility is projected to produce ammonia valued at USD 25 billion, based on current prices. The ultra-low emission ammonia produced by the plant also holds potential for use as CO2-free marine e-fuel, particularly considering Indonesia’s position along major international shipping routes.

The environmentally friendly nature of the facility positions it to be highly competitive in the market for ultra-low emission ammonia, crucial in reducing the CO2 footprint of both agriculture and shipping. The Danish companies involved anticipate that similar facilities will be in demand worldwide.

A Milestone Agreement

The official signing ceremony for the partnership took place on May 19 at Topsoe headquarters in Lyngby, Denmark. Representatives from all participating companies, along with officials from the Indonesian embassy, were present to commemorate this significant milestone. The signing marks the beginning of an ambitious journey to transform fertilizer production and revolutionize sustainable practices in the agricultural sector.

A Shared Vision for a Greener Future

The collaboration between the Danish companies and Pupuk Kaltim exemplifies a shared commitment to environmental sustainability, innovation, and a greener future. By bringing together cutting-edge technologies and expertise, the partnership aims to accelerate the energy transition and support Indonesia’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2060. This transformative project not only holds the potential to revolutionize the agricultural sector but also contributes to global efforts to combat climate change and build a more sustainable planet.

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Conclusion

The strategic partnership between Topsoe, Alfa Laval, Copenhagen Atomics, and Aalborg CSP, along with Indonesian companies Pupuk Kaltim and Pertamina New & Renewable Energy, represents a significant step toward sustainable fertilizer production. By leveraging nuclear power and advanced technologies, this ambitious project aims to provide food for millions of people while drastically reducing CO2 emissions. As the facility takes shape in Bontang, Indonesia, it stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how collaboration and innovation can pave the way to a greener future for our planet.


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