IIT Jodhpur designs catalysts for green ammonia

Jodhpur: Researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur has identified promising single-atom catalysts for nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) required for the synthesis of green ammonia.

Ammonia is one of the key elements in the fertiliser industry as well as in paper, textile, rubber industries. Ammonia could also be a potential carrier for hydrogen for easy transportation and storage of the fuel, which may speed up the hydrogen economy in our country by utilising the existing ammonia pipelines.

Currently, the conventional process of synthesising green ammonia has an enormous carbon footprint, as it emits about 3 per cent of global carbon dioxide and consumes about 2 per cent of the world’s total energy production.

Electrochemical synthesis route could be a vital choice for its synthesis, where Nitrogen Reduction Reaction (NRR) is one of the hardest reactions to carry out due to the strong N-N triple bond coupled with poor nitrogen adsorption on many catalysts and presence of competitive hydrogen evolution reaction. So, the researchers focused on electrochemical NRR in order to synthesise “green ammonia.”

The team focused on the design of electrocatalysts for green ammonia and green urea production. Both will have less or negligible carbon footprint compared to existing conventional processes. Urea is a vital compound for societal development and the high presence of 46 per cent nitrogen (by weight) makes it a major player of the fertiliser industry.

“The recent surge in interest in the electrochemical synthesis of ammonia has highlighted the inadequacy of nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) catalysts. So, our group’s primary objective is to computationally design the NRR catalysts and provide insight for the experimentally obtained NRR catalytic mechanism,” said Dr. Amitava Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, IIT Jodhpur, in a statement.

The research is published in the Catalysis Today Journal.

The future research target of the group is exploring electrochemical synthesis of ammonia from various nitrogenous pollutants.


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