Researchers develop new technologies for electrically driven chemical chain synthesis of ammonia

The development of hydrogen energy industry is one of the important ways to help achieve the “dual carbon” goal, but the storage and transportation problem of hydrogen is the main factor restricting its large-scale development. Ammonia has the advantages of high hydrogen storage, easy liquefaction, easy storage and transportation, etc., and is considered to be one of the most potential hydrogen energy carriers, and has recently been favored by the industry. Recently, Chen Ping, researcher of Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, associate researcher Cao Hujun, and associate researcher Gao Wenbo’s team have made new progress in the field of chemical chain synthesis of ammonia. The team designed a new process of electro-driven chemical chain ammonia synthesis (ECLAS) mediated by lithium imino (Li2NH), which provides research ideas for the “green ammonia synthesis” process driven by renewable energy. The results were published in the American Chemical Society Energy Letters and were selected as the cover story.

Inside cover image (Courtesy of the research team)

At present, industrial ammonia synthesis mainly uses the Haber-Bosch process driven by fossil energy, but this is a high-energy, high-carbon process. As a result, developing a “green ammonia” process powered by renewable energy is challenging. 

Based on the early development of hydride-mediated low-temperature catalytic ammonia synthesis and iminoide-mediated thermochemical chain ammonia synthesis, the team proposed a new process of electrically driven chemical chain ammonia synthesis, which improved the ammonia production rate of the thermochemical chain ammonia synthesis process and the ammonia equilibrium concentration of the hydrogenation ammonia production reaction. Moreover, unlike the Li3N-mediated electrochemical synthesis of ammonia as reported in the literature (three-step reaction: Li+ reduction to Li; Li nitrogen fixation to produce Li3N; Li3N reprotonation to produce ammonia and Li+), the conversion process between LiH and Li2NH to form ammonia is used in this work (two-step reaction: LiH nitrogen fixation to produce Li2NH; Li2NH hydrogenation to produce ammonia and regenerate LiH), theoretically has better reaction thermodynamics, so efficient ammonia production can be implemented at lower voltages.

This study demonstrates the potential of iminides as nitrogen-carrying gases in the synthesis of ammonia by electrically driven chemical chains, and provides design ideas for the development of a “green ammonia synthesis” process driven by renewable energy. (Source: Sun Danning, China Science News)

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