Employee Spotlight: Eugene Britton on CF Industries’ Green Ammonia Project
By: Corporate Communications
August 18, 2021
Clean Energy, People, Sustainability
As part of its commitment to decarbonize its ammonia production network, CF Industries is developing the first commercial-scale green ammonia project in North America at our Donaldsonville Complex. In this employee spotlight, we get an update on the project from Eugene Britton, Director of Technical Services at Donaldsonville.
Tell us about your role.
My role at CF is the Director of Technical Services in Donaldsonville, which means I’m responsible for overseeing the engineering, mechanical integrity and control system groups at the plant. The most exciting thing about my work is the diverse types of projects I contribute to – anything from large projects like the green ammonia initiative to environmental and process safety improvements in our operating units. I like that I never have the same day twice since there’s so many different opportunities here.
Can you explain the CF Industries green ammonia project and how you’ve played a role in bringing it to life?
The distinction between green ammonia production and the conventional process is that green ammonia production creates the hydrogen required to produce ammonia using water and electricity rather than a hydrocarbon feedstock. The electricity, which is generated without the use of fossil fuels, allows us to produce ammonia free from ties to greenhouse gas emission. Our green ammonia plant will be the largest unit of its kind in North America. This project is a prime display of CF’s bold and progressive ESG [environmental, social and governance] goals, as we develop and better understand the technologies required to move away from the current processes that emit CO2.
What can we expect to see from the green ammonia project through the end of the year?
This year we’ll begin site preparation work and construction of the warehouse needed to store the materials that are delivered for the construction of the plant. Equipment deliveries will begin next year, and. we expect to have the unit in production in 2023.
What’s the greatest challenge in adding an electrolyzer to an existing ammonia plant?
This technology is entirely new for much of the world, not just our team at CF. Although electrolysis has been around for 100 years or more, it has not been the most economical process to produce hydrogen and subsequently use that hydrogen to produce ammonia. Our engineering team has worked hard to understand the underlying technology to ensure safe and efficient integration of the electrolysis process into our operation. There’s a lot of work that goes into developing the equipment design and operating process to make sure we are simultaneously meeting CF safety standards, but we are proud to say that once finished, it will be the largest unit producing green ammonia in the world.
What has surprised you about the green ammonia project so far?
The biggest surprise was learning about the larger space requirements that are necessary for green production versus the conventional process. It’s much like green energy production when you compare the space needed for a power plant against the space to install solar fields or wind turbines.
What does being a part of the first commercial-scale green ammonia project in North America mean to you?
It’s very exciting to be a part of this process, and something I’ve thought about quite a bit. The ammonia industry has created positive change in the world for over a century. When the industry first developed over 100 years ago in Germany, it allowed the world population to grow by reducing hunger and even eliminated wars fought over mines that produced fertilizer. Fifty years ago when CF sites started building large ammonia plants that generated 1,000 tons of ammonia a day instead of 100 tons, this had a huge impact on the world by advancing farmers’ abilities to feed the hungry world. Through the lens of today’s climate crisis, it’s rewarding to be with a company that is taking action to help solve those global challenges while still feeding the world. I feel very proud to work for CF.