Case ID: M24-008P^

Published: 2024-05-08 15:32:13

Last Updated: 1715182333


Sergi Garcia-Segura
Gabriel Cerron Calle

Technology categories

Alternative Energy/Biofuels/Bioplastics/AlgaeApplied TechnologiesEnvironmental Remediation/Wastewater TreatmentPhysical Science

Licensing Contacts

Physical Sciences Team

Atomic Hydrogen Provision by Cobalt Sites for Superior Ammonia Production


Ammonia (NH3) is a valuable compound for industrial, agricultural, and water treatment applications. The typical method for large-scale production of ammonia is the Haber-Bosch (HB) process, which uses hydrogen and nitrogen as reagents under high pressure and temperature. However, this process generates over 450 million tons of CO2 annually, which represents nearly 1.5% of global carbon emissions each year. There is a need for a green chemical synthesis alternative that can produce large-scale ammonia without producing as much carbon emissions.

Electrochemical reduction of nitrate provides a green alternative for decentralized ammonia production by transforming a pollutant into an added-value product. Electrocatalysts containing platinum group metals (PGM) have potential for this purpose, due to their high selectivity and stability for ammonia production. However, these elements are expensive and are not as abundant as other elements with comparable performance.

Invention Description

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed novel trimetallic electrochemical catalysts using cobalt (Co) and copper (Cu). These catalysts achieve competitive transformation of nitrate into ammonia that can drastically decrease the cost of the electrodes by not using platinum group metals. This technology offers a decentralized and easy-to-operate approach to the conventional Haber-Bosch process that can be controlled to selectively produce ammonia.

Potential Applications

  • Ionic exchange regeneration brines
  • Nitrate reduction in water streams & concentrated effluents
  • Ammonia & fertilizer production

Benefits and Advantages

  • Lower cost – does not use platinum group metals
  • High product selectivity – allows for selective production of ammonia
  • Faster reduction of nitrate – electrodeposited copper nanodomains accelerate the reduction process
  • Large-scale potential – lower-cost electrocatalyst allows for larger-scale applications

Related Publication: Atomic hydrogen provision by cobalt sites in a bimetallic Ni/Co(OH)x and trimetallic Ni/Cu2O/Co(OH)x configurations for superior ammonia production