Ammonia Synthesis at Ambient Conditions via Electrochemical Atomic Hydrogen Permeation

Davide Ripepi, Riccardo Zaffaroni, Herman Schreuders, Bart Boshuizen, Fokko M. Mulder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Direct electrochemical nitrogen reduction holds the promise of enabling the production of carbon emission-free ammonia, which is an important intermediate in the fertilizer industry and a potential green energy carrier. Here we show a strategy for ambient condition ammonia synthesis using a hydrogen permeable nickel membrane/electrode that spatially separates the electrolyte and hydrogen reduction side from the dinitrogen activation and hydrogenation sites. Gaseous ammonia is produced catalytically in the absence of electrolyte via hydrogenation of adsorbed nitrogen by electrochemically permeating atomic hydrogen from water reduction. Dinitrogen activation at the polycrystalline nickel surface is confirmed with 15N2 isotope labeling experiments, and it is attributed to a Mars-van Krevelen mechanism enabled by the formation of N-vacancies upon hydrogenation of surface nitrides. We further show that gaseous hydrogen does not hydrogenate the adsorbed nitrogen, strengthening the benefit of having an atomic hydrogen permeable electrode. The proposed approach opens new directions toward green ammonia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3817-3823
JournalACS Energy Letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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