Safety of using ammonia for the hydrogen economy

This project is funded by:

  • SusHY


There is a growing focus on hydrogen technologies and the role they likely to have in the development of the future low-carbon economy. The experience accumulated with use of ammonia in industries and its transportation around the globe offers practical cost-effective means for storage and transport of large quantities of hydrogen compared to compressed gaseous or liquid forms. Ammonia is characterised by its liquid state at ambient conditions, high volumetric and gravimetric energy density.

There is a substantial track record and experience on the inherently safer use of ammonia in the industrial environment as it is widely utilised in chemical processing, food production, as an agricultural fertiliser, etc. Emerging use of ammonia in a different capacity, i.e. as hydrogen carrier, calls for a reassessment of hazards and associated risks it presents to life, property and environment.

This PhD project aims to develop scientifically underpinned safety strategies and engineering solutions for handling large quantities of ammonia used as hydrogen carrier during transport and storage onboard and using relevant infrastructure. The project will review hazards, including toxicity effects, existing prevention and mitigation safety strategies when dealing safely with ammonia. New practices associated with extended use of ammonia for hydrogen economy will be investigated, scenarios of unscheduled ammonia release in enclosures and the open atmosphere will be identified and prioritised.

The research outcomes are expected in the form of recommendations for inherently safer use of ammonia for hydrogen applications and may include, e.g. requirements to ventilation in enclosures where ammonia is handled, strategy for the choice of ammonia piping and pumping pressures, a methodology to define hazard distances for different release scenarios in the open atmosphere, others. It is envisaged that the research will rely on the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to study the propagation of ammonia cloud following its accidental discharge and evaporation, the build-up of ammonia concentration and its effect on exposed people.

The successful candidate is expected to have a strong background in one of the following disciplines: mathematics, physics, chemistry, fluid dynamics, heat and mass transfer, combustion. Any previous experience of theoretical analysis and/or numerical studies is welcome. The research will be conducted at the HySAFER Centre. The candidate will focus on CFD modelling and numerical simulations, ‎use relevant software (ANSYS Fluent, FieldView, etc.) and the state-of-‎the-art computational resources – multi-processor workstations ‎available at HySAFER Centre and HPC facility available within EPSRC ‎KELVIN-2 project. This research will be aligned to HySAFER’s ‎externally funded projects and reported at international conferences. ‎Publication of results in peer-reviewed journals is expected.‎

Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Masters at 65%

Funding and eligibility

This project is funded by:

  • SusHY
  • These fully funded scholarships include a tax-free stipend of £16,909 per annum, subject to satisfactory progress over a 4 year period, tuition fees, and a research budget. These awards are open to home/EU and overseas applicants.

    The Doctoral College at Ulster University

    Key dates

    Submission deadline
    Friday 5 February 2021

    Interview Date
    April 2021

    Preferred student start date
    Mid-September 2021


    Apply Online  

    Contact supervisor

    Dr Dmitriy Makarov

    Other supervisors

    Back to Top