Innovating a New Method of Producing Ammonia with Light | AIChE

Innovating a New Method of Producing Ammonia with Light


A new method of producing ammonia under blue light may provide a pathway to ammonia production that is more sustainable than the traditional Haber-Bosch process.

The method, reported in the journal Science Advances, is far from being feasible in an industrial process, says study leader Jonas Peters, a chemist at the California Institute of Technology. But the basic chemistry it reveals may pave the way to photochemical- or photoelectrochemical-driven ammonia synthesis.

“This paper introduces, for the first time, a well-defined molecular system that enables light-driven nitrogen fixation to ammonia as opposed to nitrogen fixation to ammonia driven by high temperatures and pressure,” Peters says.

These kinds of reactions using homogenous catalysis were “uncharted territory” until recently, Peters says, but homogenous systems allow for systemic studies of the mechanisms of nitrogen fixation.

The new method involves using a reduced Hantzsch ester (HEH2) as a hydrogen carrier. In the presence of a molybdenum (III) bromide...

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