Mechanocatalytic synthesis of ammonia at room temperature and atmospheric pressure

October 28, 2021
Unimagined effect: The grinding process in a ball mill activates a catalyst in such a way that it facilitates the synthesis of ammonia at a much lower temperature and pressure than is necessary in the well-established Haber-Bosch process.

In an Angewandte-paper hot off the press, Steffen Reichle, Michael Felderhoff and Ferdi Schüth report the mechanocatalytic synthesis of ammonia over a cesium-promoted iron catalyst under mild conditions. Ammonia synthesis normally requires temperatures of 400-500°C and pressures of 150-300 bar. Ammonia is the basis of all nitrogen-containing fertilizers and is under discussion as transport and storage molecule for hydrogen in future energy systems. It is estimated that currently about 2 % of the global energy demand is used for ammonia synthesis.

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