This paper presents a detailed surface reaction mechanism for the decomposition of NH3 to H2 and N2 on a Ni surface. The mechanism is validated for temperatures ranging from 700 to 1500K and pressures from 5.3Pa to 100kPa. The activation energies for various elementary steps are calculated using the unity bond index-quadratic exponential potential (UBI-QEP) method. Sensitivity analysis is carried out to study the influence of various kinetic parameters on reaction rates. The NH3 decomposition mechanism is used to simulate SOFC button cell operating on NH3 fuel. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.