Ammonia used for: What is anhydrous ammonia used for?

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Figure 1. A ball and stick diagram of ammonia. The white balls are hydrogen and the blue ball is nitrogen.[1]

Ammonia is a chemical with the formula NH3. At room temperature, it is a colourless gas, with a pungent odour that is highly irritating. Ammonia is classified as a base, and is fairly corrosive. When put under enough pressure, ammonia gas forms a clear liquid and is generally shipped in this form. It is not highly flammable.[2] Some additional properties of ammonia are shown in the table below.

Chemical formula NH3
Molar mass 17.031 grams/mole
Melting point -77.73oC[3]
Boiling point -33. 34oC[3]

Ammonia is a chemical that is essential for plant, animal, and human life. It is a natural component of the air, water, and soil and acts as a nitrogen source for plants and animals. However, in high quantities ammonia can be harmful for human health.[4]


Ammonia has a wide range of uses, but the majority of ammonia produced (~80%)[2] is used in agriculture as a fertilizer. This process allows soils to become more nitrogen rich. Ammonia can also be used as a refrigerant gas and is used in the manufacturing of plastics, explosives, textiles, pesticides, dyes, and other chemicals. Additionally, ammonia can be used as a cleaning solution in both household and industrial applications.[2]

Ammonia can also be used as a source of protein in livestock feed for animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats. In the petroleum industry, ammonia is used to neutralize acidic components of crude oil. In mining, ammonia is used to extract copper, nickel, and molybdenum from their ores. In waste water treatment, ammonia is used to control the pH of the water. Finally, ammonia is used to clean exhaust gases from smokestacks, removing sulfur oxides and NOx. This enhances the efficiency of electrostatic precipitators.[5]

Health Effects

Depending on how a person is exposed to ammonia, the health effects vary. When inhaled, ammonia acts as an irritant and burns the nose, throat, and respiratory tract. This inhalation of the corrosive chemical can result in respiratory distress. At lower concentrations this can lead to coughing. This exposure is more harmful to children or adults with reduced respiratory functions.[2]

If ammonia comes into contact with the eyes or skin, it can cause irritation and burning. Extended exposure to ammonia can result in blindness and eye damage. If ingested, ammonia can burn the mouth, throat, and stomach.[2]


  1. ↑ Wikimedia Commons. (September 8, 2015). Ammonia 3D Model [Online]. Available:
  2. Department of Health, New York. (September 8, 2015). The Facts About Ammonia [Online]. Available:
  3. 3.03.1 PubChem. (September 8, 2015). Ammonia [Online]. Available:
  4. ↑ The Fertilizer Institute. (September 8, 2015). Health Effects of Ammonia [Online]. Available:
  5. ↑ RM Tech. (September 8, 2015). Uses of Ammonia [Online]. Available:

What are the uses of ammonia?

Ammonia is one of the most recognisable chemicals. It is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen that was already known in ancient Egypt. However, it got its name much later, and we started using it relatively recently. In nature, this compound is formed by rotting protein substances.

The application of ammonia is very wide. It is mainly used in the chemical, food and agriculture industries. Despite the unpleasant smell, ammonia is a compound with many useful properties.

Application in industry and cosmetics

Ammonia is a chemical compound commonly used in industry. It is most often used in the production of fertilisers. It is abundant in nutrients that enrich the soil. Ammonia is also used in agriculture because it has no negative impact on the environment and soil. Other chemical compounds contained in fertilisers are expected to regulate soil parameters. This translates into much better yields.

Another beneficiary of the capabilities offered by ammonia is, of course, the textile industry. Liquid ammonia has found wide application in the tanning industry, as well as in the production of dyes used in textile colouring. Liquid ammonia is essential in the production of synthetic fabrics. Ammonia solution allows fabric colouring to obtain almost any colour.

Weapons manufacturers use a very large amount of ammonia. Are you wondering what ammonia is used for in the arms industry? Primarily for the production of explosives. It is a flammable compound and it ignites spontaneously at temperatures above 630oC.

Ammonia is widely used in cosmetic industry. This substance, used at a specific concentration, is considered a completely safe substance, therefore, it is very widely used in the production of hair dyes. This compound is meant to open up hair cuticles, increasing dye adhesion. This has a significant impact on the effectiveness of hair colouring, even if it comes with an unpleasant smell during the entire procedure.

As you can see, ammonia is a popular compound in industry and cosmetics. But let us focus on how to use ammonia at home. This topic is probably much more interesting for you.

Ammonia and its application at home

Although ammonia gives off an unpleasant smell, when used properly, it is not dangerous to health or life. Food grade ammonia finds wide application in our households.

In the Middle Ages, ammonia solution was used very often – mainly for disinfection and cleaning. Today, its use is much broader. Manufacturers also provide ammonia powder, which has been used, among others, in the food industry.

Ammonia as a cleaning agent

At home, ammonia is most often used as a cleaning agent. For this, as a rule, an ammonia solution is prepared, and you can do it yourself. It is enough to combine the compound with water. It is true that the smell is not too pleasant, but the effectiveness is guaranteed.

The prepared solution is perfect for cleaning glazed tiles and joints. You can buy a ready-made ammonia-based chemical. It is intended for regular cleaning of ceramic and glazed tiles.

The ammonia solution will not only cope with typical dirt very well, but will also get rid of stubborn, even very greasy stains. You can use food grade ammonia for cleaning glazed tiles, or buy a ready-made product.

For many years, homemakers have been using ammonia solution to clean glass surfaces and windows. Most liquids manufactured for this purpose contain ammonia solution.

If you want to get rid of smudges and greasy stains on glass, mix ammonia powder with water and wash the glass surface with the solution. This will help you avoid leaving unsightly streaks on the glass.

Back in the Middle Ages, ammonia was already used to clean jewellery, gilded and silver-plated cups and dishes. Of course, the smell of the vessels after this operation was not very pleasant, but the jewellery and golden bowls and goblets shined like new.

Ammonia is an excellent cleaning agent. It is worth taking advantage of its properties and getting rid of stubborn dirt from smooth surfaces cheaply and ecologically.

Ammonia as a bleach and ingredient in washing agents

Dried blood on clothes, a persistent stain, or maybe heavily soiled shoe soles? With ammonia, this type of dirt is not a problem any more. All you have to do is soak the footwear or clothes in an ammonia solution. CAUTION! Do not soak them for too long – otherwise you will damage the material! After soaking, clean the shoes and wash the clothes. The stains will disappear quickly without a trace.

Ammonia as a fertiliser for plants in the home and garden

Since ammonia is used in the production of fertilisers for agriculture, you can also successfully use it as a fertiliser for your plants. It is best to spray the leaves with the ammonia solution. However, you should not do it too often, too much ammonia is just as bad as too little.

Is ammonia harmful?

Ammonia, if used in small amounts, is not harmful to health or life. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous for people who have inhaled or contact allergies. Make sure you are not allergic to ammonia before you use it.

Ammonia powder or its solution does not cause poisoning unless you swallow it. However, it is used in industry and people who work with it and are constantly exposed to ammonia are at the highest risk of ammonia poisoning.

The amount of ammonia in cleaning, washing and cosmetic agents does not exceed 5%. At this concentration, poisoning is practically impossible. However, you should always exercise extreme caution when using and preparing ammonia solutions.

Ammonia – a simple compound with great potential

Ammonia has found very wide application in our lives. If you know how to use its full potential, you can make your daily chores significantly easier. If used properly and in the right proportions, ammonia is safe and effective. Therefore, it is produced on a large scale in the chemical industry.

It is also worth adding that, as a result of adding ethylene oxide in the production process and its reaction with ammonia, we can obtain such by-products as diethanolamine and triethanolamine. They are available in the PCC Group offer. These compounds also find a number of applications in various industries.

If you are interested in a wide range of products with equally good cleaning and disinfecting properties, and also used in the cosmetic, food and construction industries, we encourage you to familiarise yourself with the offer of sodium hypochlorite and soda lye. The PCC Group is one of the leading manufacturers of these compounds, distinguished by high quality and a production process based on the principles of sustainable development.

advantages and disadvantages of anhydrous ammonia —

Nitrogen plant nutrition: advantages and disadvantages of anhydrous ammonia —

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May 19, 2020, 09:00




What is anhydrous ammonia?

Anhydrous ammonia is a highly concentrated nitrogen fertilizer (82. 3% nitrogen). Appearance is a colorless mobile liquid with a pungent odor. When it enters the soil, it turns into a gas and forms ammonium hydroxide, which is quickly seized by the soil, does not wash out or volatilize.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using anhydrous ammonia as the main nitrogen fertilizer, what are the nuances of transportation and application to the soil, understood. Experts of the companies «SBPM» and «Agroinnovations» helped us in this.


When and under which crops is it applied?

Anhydrous ammonia is used for cereals, industrial crops, vegetables, sugar beets. Fertilization works are carried out either in late autumn under autumn plowing, or in early spring three weeks before sowing, in order to avoid seed burns and weak shoots. Since anhydrous ammonia is applied to moist soil, the optimal application time for dry regions is spring.

It can also be used for fertilizing row crops. In this case, it is recommended to lay it at a distance of 10-12 mm from the plants or in the middle of the row spacing. Otherwise, the plants may get burned.


What should the soil temperature be?

Experts note that in order for anhydrous ammonia to work most effectively, the optimum soil temperature should be no higher than 10 ° C, and the air temperature should not be higher than 15 ° C.


What is the depth of fertilization into the soil?

Liquid ammonia is applied to a depth of up to 18-25 cm, depending on the mechanical composition of the soil. When applying, you need to take into account the moisture content of the soil. With insufficient moisture content in the soil, significant losses of nitrogen are inevitable. But if the soil is waterlogged, technical problems will arise — the soil will stick to the working bodies of the cultivator-applicator. Due to the possible clogging of the applicator tubes, the uniformity of nitrogen distribution will deteriorate, and its loss is possible. You can learn more about the features of introducing anhydrous ammonia into the soil from the material of our colleagues from the Superagronom. com website.


How to prepare the soil?

It can be applied under different types of tillage: traditional, minimum, zero and no-till. You also need to consider the composition of the soil. For rough and stony soils, it is better to use a different type of nitrogen fertilizer, as the stones will cause the cultivator’s soil knives to fall out of the soil and nitrogen will be vented into the atmosphere, Pennsylvania State University experts note. Nikolai Monashok, Executive Director, spoke about how the soil is prepared for the introduction of anhydrous ammonia at the MUNNT agricultural company in a video blog on the Agrosfera channel.

“When applying anhydrous ammonia, the main thing is that the soil is moist… The depth of application is 15-18 cm, the speed of the cultivator should be no more than 10 km/h, depending on the soil. If the speed is higher, the cultivator will start to jump and fertilizer will be lost. When applying from under the paw, no gas should escape. The soil should be well prepared for ammonia: either cultivation or good loosening. Irregularities should not be, otherwise the fertilizer will be 10-30% weathered. Therefore, our task is to prepare the soil well so that, when applied, ammonia does not erode, but immediately binds to moist soil,” Nikolay Monashok noted.


What is the ammonia application rate for different crops?

Specialists of the company «Agroinnovations» recommend adhering to the following standards for the introduction of ammonia at one time:

  • for cereals — 60-150 kg/ha;
  • for industrial crops — 60-120 kg/ha;
  • for vegetables — 50-70 kg/ha;
  • for sugar beet — 120-200 kg / ha against the background of phosphorus-potassium fertilizers.


What technique is used to apply liquid ammonia?

Complex for introducing anhydrous ammonia into the soil consists of a tractor, a trailer, a dosing system and a special belt unit — an ammonia cultivator. The productivity of one complex is 180-200 hectares per day. Mostly tractors from Case, John Deere and Blu-Jet, DMI cultivators are used. The average cost of one complex is about $300,000. They manage application complexes and close the logistics of the last mile (delivery from wagon/pipe to field).


How is anhydrous ammonia stored?

Anhydrous ammonia is stored and transported in special thick-walled steel pressure tanks. The tank should not be filled more than 85%, because when the external temperature rises inside the tank, the temperature of the liquid also rises, which leads to its expansion. If the lid or faucet is opened incorrectly, ammonia will splatter, and as a result, a person may get burned.

In Ukraine, ammonia storage facilities are owned by large chemical plants (Odessa Port Plant, Severodonetsk Azot Association, Azot (Cherkassy), Rivneazot, Sumykhimprom), and several large warehouses for storage of anhydrous ammonia with a total volume of about 5 thousand tons and small warehouses, with a volume of up to 200 tons, which are used in small farms.

Zemlya i Volya agricultural company has its own ammonia storage warehouse. About $15 million was spent on the construction. Ammonia is supplied in tanks with a pressure of 22-23 atmospheres. It is introduced into the ground with the help of special units purchased in the USA.

“We abandoned ammonium nitrate, on which the entire Soviet Union sat. It oxidizes and destroys the soil. The acidity is rising. We apply anhydrous ammonia… I buy fertilizers when no one takes them. The same ammonia, if you bought it and brought it, you must immediately bring it in. You are a hostage of time and price. But I don’t, because I have a terminal for storing ammonia. I already delivered ammonia 20 days ago for the entire 2020 harvest. Do you know how much I saved per ton? UAH 4.5 thousand When it costs UAH 12-13 thousand, I charge for 8 thousand,” he said at interview CEO Leonid Yakovishin .


Whose production of ammonia do Ukrainian farmers get?

Ukraine has both domestic and imported ammonia.

“From year to year, the volumes of imports and production differ significantly. But the trend is towards increasing imports, as the domestic producer is forced to compete with cheap Russian ammonia (basic feedstock for ammonia natural gas). It is also necessary to take into account the specifics of the domestic producer, which monopolizes the market and raises the cost of ammonia. It is imports that hold back the rise in producer prices. Healthy competition is only for the benefit of the end consumer”, — said the director of “SBPM” Evgeny Vorobyov.

Read on the topic : The largest producers of mineral fertilizers in UkraineSBPM shipped about 50 thousand tons to the market, which accounted for 10% of the imported ammonia market.

“We plan to fulfill the volume of 70 thousand tons in 2020. In addition, we see the development of new areas for the sale of ammonia”, — said the director.


What are the nuances of ammonia transportation?

Transportation of ammonia to Ukraine is carried out by rail in tanks, main ammonia pipeline and special vehicles. Since ammonia is a particularly dangerous cargo, a special license is required for its transportation.

« Our company supplies all three types of ammonia to Ukraine. We have been cooperating with Ukrhimtransammiak for more than 4 years. We sell ammonia from all dispensing stations located in Kharkiv, Luhansk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Nikolaev and Odessa regions. The history of cooperation was different, but at the moment the management of the pipe showed itself very professionally, and we shipped the entire declared volume during the season (10 thousand tons in 3 months). This means that agrochemists and farmers received all the goods on time, at the right time and at a good price”, — told Evgeny Vorobyov .

Ukrkhimtransammiak is the operator of a part of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, which passes through the territory of Ukraine. Last year, the company transported a record 2.51 million tons of ammonia since its foundation. Since November 2019, acting Director appointed Maxim Nemchinov.

SBPM noted that this season the supply of ammonia in railway wagons amounted to about 15 thousand tons. Today, railway supplies of ammonia occupy the bulk of the market. The main problems of such transportation include wagon downtime and returns. The introduction of ammonia into the soil depends on weather conditions. During rainfall, work is not carried out, and the company is forced to keep wagons with goods at the stations, respectively, incurring losses during downtime.


What are the advantages of applying anhydrous ammonia?

Among the main advantages of anhydrous ammonia, Director of the Eastern Cluster of Ukrlandfarming Yuriy Shcherbak names that it is the most concentrated nitrogen fertilizer.

“First of all, none of the bulk fertilizers comes close to nitrogen concentrations like ammonia. Most nitrogen among bulk fertilizers in urea — 46%. And in anhydrous ammonia 82%. Secondly, in terms of the cost per active substance, in comparison with ammonium nitrate and urea, in anhydrous ammonia, the cost of one unit is the cheapest. Thirdly, anhydrous ammonia is not washed out with precipitation, as a result, the plant receives more nitrogen. Well, the economic benefit of such a fertilizer is that it is liquid and no one will covet it. After all, no one at the enterprise is insured against theft,” said Yuri Shcherbak.

He added that where anhydrous ammonia was applied in the fall after the main soil tillage, corn yields were higher than where loose fertilizers were applied.

“In my opinion, anhydrous ammonia is better than bulk fertilizer. But you need to try to bring it in in the fall, ”says Yury Shcherbak.

The benefits of using anhydrous ammonia also include the simplification of the production process, a more even distribution of nitrogen in the soil and the absence of caking. This technology is especially convenient for large sown areas due to the ability to fully mechanize the transportation and application of fertilizer to the soil.

“The same USA and Canada — 100% contribute anhydrous ammonia from year to year. Europe contributes less. And why? Because the farms there are mostly 20-40 hectares of land. It is inappropriate for them to spend money on these materials and all this kitchen associated with the use of anhydrous ammonia, ”summed up Yuri Shcherbak.


What are the disadvantages of anhydrous ammonia?

Has anhydrous ammonia and its disadvantages compared to solid fertilizers, namely: nitrogen volatilization into the atmosphere, high costs for storage and application equipment, risks to human health if this fertilizer is not properly handled.

As Yuriy Shcherbak told us, the arrangement of a licensed point for the distribution of anhydrous ammonia entails certain financial costs. Today the company has its own railway line, where liquid fertilizers (including anhydrous ammonia) are supplied. Get it in tanks. Then, through special pumps, they are pumped into tank trucks. They were bought in Russia and Turkey. Such tanks are not made in Ukraine. Transportation and route of anhydrous ammonia are coordinated with certain services. Drivers are trained and know how to deal with this raw material. Plus, they are provided with the necessary protective suits and materials.

“Every year we test barrels that carry anhydrous ammonia with government agencies. We also test units for the introduction of anhydrous ammonia. We buy them from Canada. We only fertilize during the day. We process 80-100 hectares per day with one unit,” said the director of the Eastern Cluster of Ukrlandfarming.

There is also an opinion that anhydrous ammonia destroys the soil biota in the places of its application. However, studies have shown that this effect is localized and temporary. After a short period of time, these losses are more than compensated.


What is the trend in demand for anhydrous ammonia in agriculture?

According to SBPM experts, in the future the demand for anhydrous ammonia will only increase, because the transition of agricultural production to liquid fertilizers can significantly save on nitrogen fertilization. But so far, anhydrous ammonia accounts for only 12% of nitrogen group fertilizers, the SBPM noted.

Natalia Rodak,


Related links

fertilizers | ammonia | BPPM | crop production | agrochemistry

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Liquid ammonia according to GOST 6221-90

measuring instruments, analytical equipment, laboratory equipment, consumables

This equipment is listed in the following catalog sections:
  • Pure gases, technical gases

Ammonia liquid technical — colorless transparent liquid, belongs to slow-burning substances.

At normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, ammonia passes into a gaseous state. Gaseous ammonia is lighter than air and forms explosive mixtures with it.

Toxic, MPCr.z. 20 mg/m³ — IV hazard class (low hazardous substances) according to GOST 12.1.007-76.

In refrigeration, it is used as a refrigerant and is called R717.

Ammonia is a corrosive substance and requires special packaging and special safety measures.

Ammonia marking — cylinders are painted yellow.

Basic technical requirements for the content of impurities in ammonia of various grades

Indicator names Norm for brand
A B High Purity 5. 0 High purity 6.0
Regulation document GOST 6221-90 TU 2114-005-16422443-2003
Mass fraction of ammonia, not less than 99.9% 99.6% 99.999% 99.9999%
Mass fraction of water <0.1% <10 ppm <1 ppm
Mass concentration of oil <2 mg/dm³ <8 mg/dm³ <0.16 ppm <0.16 ppm
Mass fraction of nitrogen ≥82.0% <5 ppm <1 ppm
Oxygen <5 ppm <1ppm
Hydrogen <5 ppm <1 ppm
Methane <5 ppm <0. 5 ppm
Carbon dioxide <5 ppm <1 ppm
Carbon monoxide <1 ppm <1 ppm
Mass concentration of iron <1 mg/dm³ <2 mg/dm³ <1 ppb <1 ppb
Mass fraction of total chlorine <0.16 ppm <0.16 ppm


General characteristics Colorless, flammable, flammable, toxic gas with a pungent odor.
Molecular weight 17.03 g/mol
Vapor pressure at 20° C 7.9 bar
Boiling point -33.35°C
Melting point -77.7 °C
Cargo hazard class (according to ADR 2015) 2. 3+8
Critical temperature 133°C
Critical pressure 11.425 MPa
CAS No. 7664-41-7
UN No. UN1005
KEM 26 K

Danger signs


Standard filling is 20.5 kg of product in 40 liter round or flat bottom bottles.

Filling in cylinders of other volume is possible.

Shut-off and control valves are made of stainless steel.

Recommended bottle

Cylinder Vitkovice 40 l with a flat bottom at 200 atm. from CrMo alloy steel with special preparation.

Recommended valve

Special stainless steel valve VS-16M (G ½) with filter

Recommended reducer

Special gearbox made of RDS-360 stainless steel or similar with a 2 micron filter.

Recommended storage cabinet

Special cabinet for storage of ammonia ShGB-2 with a weighing terminal and an exhaust hood.

By alexxlab

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