Lessons for Direct Air Capture from the history of Ammonia Synthesis

Published: 21 February 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/vtsrc2sfwd.1


A collection of historical data used in our article, "Lessons for Direct Air Capture from the History of Nitrogen Synthesis: High rates of deployment are possible, with strong support. This dataset is intended to provide transparency on the historical research underpinning our work. The attached Excel file includes the following sheets: 1) An overview sheet listing and describing all the subsequent sheets 2) A long list of candidate historical analogues, showing how they were eliminated from consideration as a historical analogue for direct air capture 3) A short list of candidate historical analogues, showing the data that was used to construct a time series of historical capacity for each of them. 4) A list of nitrogen synthesis facilities built around the world from 1905 to 1930. This data was compiled from historical primary sources, and was used to create time series documenting the number of plants and total capacity in all the countries operating nitrogen synthesis industries at this time 5) A collection of time series data showing the growth of the nitrogen industry in every country on earth, compiled from various historical sources and statistical repositories 6) A data series providing a single continuous time series for synthetic ammonia production from 1913 to 1922, which is then projected into a scenario for the possible future growth of direct air capture, starting in 2024 7) An analysis of the progress of direct air capture and ammonia synthesis technologies through the technological readiness levels, based on historical sources 9) A qualitative chronology of the history of ammonia synthesis around the world, categorized by country and by the arenas of cause and effect that apply to each event. Includes citations for every event listed. This is the basis of the qualitative narrative presented in our article. 10) A list of assumptions underpinning the data in all the other sheets, as well as some miscellaneous notes 11) A bibliography documenting all the sources used in the rest of the dataset


Steps to reproduce

The data was compiled from a variety of historical sources and statistical datasets, using different methodologies for different time series and other data sets in the file. These are detailed in sheet 10, which lists assumptions and methods, and sheet 11, which lists sources.


University of Wisconsin Madison


Sustainability, History of Technology, Carbon Dioxide Capture


European Research Council

ERC Grant agreement no 951542