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Is lithium the key for nitrogen electroreduction?

Westhead, O; Jervis, R; Stephens, IEL; (2021) Is lithium the key for nitrogen electroreduction? Science , 372 (6547) pp. 1149-1150. 10.1126/science.abi8329. Green open access

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Abstract

The Haber-Bosch process converts nitrogen (N2) and hydrogen (H2) into ammonia (NH3) over iron-based catalysts. Today, 50% of global agriculture uses Haber-Bosch NH3 in fertilizer. Efficient synthesis requires enormous energy to achieve extreme temperatures and pressures, and the H2 is primarily derived from methane steam reforming. Hence, the Haber-Bosch process accounts for at least 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions (1). Electrochemical N2 reduction to make NH3, powered by renewable electricity under ambient conditions, could provide a localized and greener alternative. On page 1187 of this issue, Suryanto et al. (2) report highly efficient and stable electrochemical N2 reduction based on a recyclable proton donor. This study builds on earlier work showing that an electrolyte containing a lithium salt in an organic solvent with a sacrificial proton donor was unmatched in its ability to unequivocally reduce N2 (3, 4). In both studies, it is still unclear why lithium is so critical.

Type: Article
Title: Is lithium the key for nitrogen electroreduction?
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1126/science.abi8329
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abi8329
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Ammonia, Lithium, Models, Molecular, Nitrogen, Protons
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Chemical Engineering
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131734
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