Ammonia is a vital compound made up of hydrogen and nitrogen, and is integral for the sustenance of all life forms on earth. The most commonly used method of ammonia production is the Haber-Bosch method that consumers large amount of energy and fuel. Hence, the negative toll placed on the environment by the production of ammonia has become a matter of concern across the globe. In order to combat the environmental degradation caused by production of ammonia, a team of researchers at UCF in collaboration with the scientists at Virginia Tech have forged a green approach to ammonia production. The sustainable method proposed by the researchers is expected to help feed the ever-increasing population. Since ammonia is used in fertilizers for food production, the sustainable method of ammonia synthesis would help feed more mouths over the coming years.
High Energy Consumption
During the synthesis of ammonia, it is important to have abundant supply of energy in order to activate the nitrogen molecules. Temperatures as high as 1022 oF, along with ultra-high pressure, is needed to accentuate a reaction between nitrogen and hydrogen to give ammonia. The other method, that uses milder conditions, is the use of active electrons by making them pass though an electrode in an electrochemical reaction. However, this is an extremely slow reaction and the passage of electrons is not a smooth process.
Resolving the High Energy Barrier
The researchers found that a palladium hydride catalyst could ease the flow of electrons which could in turn aid the synthesis of ammonia. This is an effective method because it requires minimal electricity and can address other issues pertaining to the conversion renewable energy.