Progress and challenges in ammonia synthesis by electrochemical processes


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Efficient production of ammonia from renewable energy represents an important technology for future means of global transportation of renewable energy from remote land and marine areas where it can be generated inexpensively at massive scale. The direct electrochemical nitrogen reduction reaction (eNRR), coupled with the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), is an attractive approach to the generation of ammonia from renewables and this talk will overview the technology options in respect of this process.

The eNRR as carried out in traditional solvents is of relatively low efficiency under ambient conditions compared to other energy storage mechanisms and this is currently limiting the technology.1 One of the reasons for this low efficiency is the very poor solubility of N2 in many electrochemical solvents. Fortunately, some non-aqueous electrolyte systems offer considerably higher nitrogen solubility, up to 20 times or more than in water, and this has allowed us to demonstrate breakthrough levels of selectivity in this reaction.2-5 We will discuss recent progress in this area and the likely trajectory for future development.