The search for a practical green energy solution has been in full swing for quite some time. But green technology still faces many challenges, such as its unbearably high price tag, the fact that it can’t provide enough energy for mass use, and that it can be impractical to implement.
The good news is that lately the game has changed – a new, affordable breakthrough can make fossil fuels a thing of the past. Green NH3, a type of ammonia, is gaining traction as an alternative fuel for automobiles, airplanes, and factories. The icing on the cake? Its emissions are only water and air, and it costs less than 30 cents a litre.
Brampton-based pharmaceutical businessman Roger Gordon has developed and patented the technology to make Green NH3 a reality. Green NH3 has already received praise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, and former Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller.
The fuel is already in fairly wide use. Gordon’s truck, a Ford F350, runs on Green NH3, as do 100 other cars on the road. It’s as cheap as a $1,000 retrofit, he says. Additionally, some farm equipment in the U.S. and Italy have also been fitted for the fuel.
On an industrial and commercial level, NH3 has been used successfully in the past. In Belgium during World War II it was utilized to keep public transportation running during gasoline shortages. Just a few years later, NASA’s X-15 jet – which broke speed records – was fuelled by NH3.
Suffice it to say, weaning ourselves off of oil has many advantages, such as significantly paring down air pollutants and eliminating the need to carve into the ground to drill for oil, not to mention an end to oil spills and economic dealings with unfriendly regimes. It could also save lives, since 85% of airborne pollutants are responsible for the deaths of 600,000 children age five and under each year.
The Edge spoke with Roger Gordon about how Green NH3 can change the world, and what’s in store for this groundbreaking energy alternative.
How did you first find out about NH3? What was your initial involvement?
We were making pharmaceuticals starting with ammonia as a building block. That was the main product. Because we were using so much of it, we thought we could probably make this stuff.
We thought we could offer big companies something green to replace a barrel of oil.
Is there a difference between Green NH3, which you invented, and NH3?
It’s the same molecule. But we don’t have to take coal and start cooking it to get the molecule. Ours is made from air and water. We take the nitrogen in air and the hydrogen in water. The machine is continually sucking air in, to take in the nitrogen, and sucking water in, to take the hydrogen.
You have this machine the size of a refrigerator that creates Green NH3. How would the common person utilize it?
I would prefer you plugged it into a solar panel just to keep the price down, if nothing else – and keep it completely green. There are people now with solar who are paying less than 3 cents a kilowatt, as opposed to five times that or more.
We are at 500 litres a day, at twenty litres an hour. It’s something that people could put in their garages or, eventually, gas stations would have pumps for it. I’m hoping one day, hundreds of thousands of them will be across the country. Right now, each of them is about $10,000, so people could lease them, but it could get cheaper along the way.
Is Green NH3 completely safe in a car?
The tank is supposed to be outside the vehicle – the same with a fuel tank. You don’t want the tank inside the vehicle of any fuel. If the tank is pierced or punctured, you don’t want to breathe that, because it is caustic. If you can hold your breath and get away from it, that’s fine. But it doesn’t burn. That’s the beautiful thing about NH3; it doesn’t burn or explode like other fuels.
Last July you met with Saudi Arabian developers, university professors, and even a Saudi prince to discuss ways to jumpstart Green NH3 in that country. How has that been going?
They are still on board… they want to be shareholders and partners in a couple of projects. They have a few projects they want to use to add Green NH3.
What about going to factories, corporations, airlines?
We’ve made the contact, and they know we exist. We’ve tested it in jet engines. It isn’t like it hasn’t been tried.
One of the reasons the Saudis are interested because of [state-owned] Emirates Airlines – they see they are spending on some flights $5,000 to $10,000 in carbon taxes over Europe. They are looking for ways to avoid the carbon tax. General Electric are testing it in their operations; Rolls Royce are going to test it in theirs.
It’s just all the regulations and roadblocks. The government, big oil, the Canadian Safety Association, it’s all of these hoops you have to jump through. Government has been a threat to growing technology. It’s like you don’t want your daughter to go out with a guy, you can find a hundred reasons why not. It’s so easy to be the stopper.
But we are already talking to the Quebec government, and they are very interested in using it for the northern communities for 10 cents a kilowatt, rather than 25 cents. We’re also talking to northern communities, farms and mines. The mines, just because they are so large scale, and they need so much fuel to produce, they would use this because of the amount of money they would save.
What has being an entrepreneur taught you?
I always look at some business, and I see two people doing the job that one person can do. Streamline it. That’s all I see.
Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer