2016-084 – Synthesis of Ammonia and Its Derivatives at Ambient Conditions

Background Ammonia is a chemical commonly used in industrial and agricultural applications such as cleaning agents, fertilizers, and water treatment. Ammonia is also the precursor to most nitrogen-containing compounds. Due to the many uses of ammonia, its synthesis is the world’s second highest energy consuming chemical process, thus making its production dependent on ample supplies of energy, primarily natural gas. Sustainable production of ammonia is desirable because of its critical role in agriculture and other processes. Ammonia is typically synthesized through the Haber–Bosch process, which requires extreme pressures and temperatures for nitrogen gas fixation. The alternative method is to capture and convert nitrogen gas through heterogeneous and electrochemical fixation; however, the activity of the catalysts formed using this method is extremely low. There exists a present market need for a process with improved catalytic activity that successfully synthesizes ammonia without requiring high levels of energy. Technology Description Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a process to synthesize ammonia at ambient conditions. This process achieves an improvement of catalytic activity by refining the morphology and the chemical speciation of catalysts. Andrew Roerick aroerick@innovations.unm.edu 505-277-0608

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