Faculty Advisor

Datta, Ravindra

Faculty Advisor

Fishtik, Ilie


The decomposition of ammonia was studied on a commercial triply-promoted Fe synthesis catalyst and Ru/AlO. The Ru catalyst was found to be ten times more active than the Fe catalyst under the same experimental conditions. A microkinetic model was developed using the unity bond index - quadratic exponential potential method to determine the energetics of the twelve elementary reaction steps. The model successfully predicted the activity of the Fe and Ru catalyst compared to experimental results. However, the model predicted significantly higher apparent activation energies for these metals. The predicted values were 47.9 kcal/mol and 43.0 kcal/mol for Fe and Ru, respectively, compared to experimental values of 29.8 kcal/mol and 21.4 kcal/mol. The developed rate expression was used to design a reactor to decompose anhydrous ammonia to produce hydrogen for a PEM fuel cell vehicle. It was found that 5.40 kg/hr of ammonia would be required to operate the vehicle at cruising speeds. With the vehicle's standard 18.5 gallon fuel tank, the ammonia fueled vehicle was calculated to travel 490 miles. The same vehicle using gasoline and an internal combustion engine was calculated to travel 590 miles.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 2003


Chemical Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Chemical Engineering