The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by carbon emission concerns, energy transition, and energy security aspects, and growing importance of technologies such as carbon capture, low-carbon hydrogen production, and energy storage. In the last three years alone, there have been over 523,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Hydrogen in oil & gas: ammonia synthesis. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 196,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the oil & gas industry, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Ammonia synthesis is a key innovation area in hydrogen

Ammonia synthesis refers to the process of producing ammonia through the reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen gases in the presence of a catalyst. The most prevalent process typically involves the production of syngas through partial oxidation or steam reforming of hydrocarbons, followed by the water gas shift reaction and synthesis of ammonia.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ammonia synthesis.

Key players in ammonia synthesis – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to ammonia synthesis

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Casale 529 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 390 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 227 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 201 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 131 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 104 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 77 Unlock Company Profile
Grannus 70 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 68 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 59 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle 51 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 41 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 41 Unlock Company Profile
Maire Tecnimont 40 Unlock Company Profile
Starfire Energy 35 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 33 Unlock Company Profile
Daicel 27 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Science and Technology Agency 25 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 21 Unlock Company Profile
Solvay 19 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 19 Unlock Company Profile
BayoTech 18 Unlock Company Profile
Petroleo Brasileiro 16 Unlock Company Profile
BP 16 Unlock Company Profile
Illuminate Buyer 15 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 15 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 15 Unlock Company Profile
Gascontec 14 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Engineering 13 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Electronics 12 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek 12 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 11 Unlock Company Profile
McDermott International 11 Unlock Company Profile
GTLpetrol 10 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 10 Unlock Company Profile
Resonac 10 Unlock Company Profile
Ritaj Inv 10 Unlock Company Profile
SynGest 9 Unlock Company Profile
Politechnika Warszawska 9 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President Enterprises 9 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 8 Unlock Company Profile
JGC 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shell International Research 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chemetics 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hepu Technology Development (Beijing) 7 Unlock Company Profile
Celanese 6 Unlock Company Profile
Sure Champion Investment 6 Unlock Company Profile
i-plas 5 Unlock Company Profile
National Engineering Research Center of Chemical Fertilizer Catalyst 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Casale is one of the leading patent filers in ammonia synthesis for the oil & gas industry. The privately-owned Swiss company offers technology licensing and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the production of industrial chemicals such as ammonia. In order to reduce carbon footprint in chemical synthesis, it has invested in research and development (R&D) to develop blue ammonia and other technologies. Some other key patent filers in the space include Haldor Topsoe, Johnson Matthey, and ThyssenKrupp.

In terms of application diversity, BASF leads the pack, while Starfire Energy and Burelle stood in the second and third positions, respectively.  BASF, the German chemical manufacturing behemoth, has developed novel catalysts within its catalyst business division, including ammonia oxidation catalyst (AMOX) that prevents ammonia from escaping from the production process into the atmosphere.

By means of geographic reach, Grannus held the top position, followed by Exxon Mobil and Johnson Matthey. Grannus develops clean technologies for synthetic gas generation, which can be harnessed for ammonia production. It also offers project development services for ammonia production.

Ammonia synthesis is a fundamental step in ammonia production. Ammonia is widely used as a feedstock for fertilizer production as well as other essential materials for manufacturing, textile, and mining industries.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Hydrogen in Oil and Gas.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.