(469b) Development of a High-Yield Semi-Continuous Multifunctional Ammonia Synthesis Reactor

Cussler, E., University of Minnesota

An ammonia synthesis reactor which permits higher conversions than can normally be obtained has been developed and operated at commercial pressures and temperatures.  The reactor contains both a commercial magnetite catalyst and an ammonia selective adsorbent.  Because the reaction is about the same speed as the absorption, the conversion of nitrogen and hydrogen is much more complete than in a conventional reactor.  The mechanism for this unexpectedly rapid adsorption is identified by separate measurements, which show that the absorption isotherm is close to a step function. 

This implies that the new reactor can be successfully operated with a pressure swing, and may provide a route to making ammonia for a small group of farms.  The nitrogen would be separated from air, and the hydrogen made by wind powered electrolysis of water.  Thus this reactor may provide a sustainable, local route to nitrogen based fertilizer.