Jodhpur- In a groundbreaking development, a researcher at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur has identified highly promising single-atom catalysts for the Nitrogen Reduction Reaction (NRR), a crucial step in the synthesis of environmentally-friendly green ammonia. Ammonia holds a pivotal role in industries such as fertilizers, paper, textiles, and rubber, and it also has the potential to serve as a carrier for hydrogen, simplifying its transportation and storage, thereby potentially accelerating the hydrogen economy in India through the utilization of existing ammonia pipelines.
Presently, the conventional method of producing green ammonia exacts a staggering environmental toll, contributing to approximately 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions and consuming about 2% of the world’s total energy production. The researchers are now exploring an electrochemical synthesis route as a promising alternative, with a particular focus on the Nitrogen Reduction Reaction (NRR). This reaction presents a formidable challenge due to the robust N-N triple bond in nitrogen molecules, poor nitrogen adsorption on many catalysts, and the presence of the competitive hydrogen evolution reaction. Consequently, the research team has directed their efforts toward the electrochemical NRR to enable the synthesis of eco-friendly “green ammonia.”
The research team’s primary objective revolves around the development of electrocatalysts for both green ammonia and green urea production. These innovations are expected to dramatically reduce or even eliminate the carbon footprint associated with conventional synthesis methods. Urea, a compound with a high nitrogen content of 46% by weight, plays a pivotal role in societal development, particularly in the fertilizer industry.
Dr. Amitava Banerjee, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering at IIT Jodhpur, commented on their work, stating, “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 into the experimentally obtained NRR catalytic mechanism.” Their research findings have been published in the prestigious Catalysis Today Journal. The future research agenda of the group will involve exploring the electrochemical synthesis of ammonia from various nitrogenous pollutants, furthering their commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly ammonia production.