Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemists discover new way to fix nitrogen

06.07.2005


Lab synthesizes ammonia using nitrogen and hydrogen in solution



University of Oregon chemists have produced ammonia from nitrogen at room temperature under normal atmospheric pressure, marking a significant step toward achieving one of chemistry’s coveted goals.

A scientific article describing the method, which uses a simple compound of iron and hydrogen as the electron source in the "fixing" reaction, is available online and will be published in the July 27 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


The process devised by University of Oregon chemistry professor David Tyler and two graduate students, John Gilbertson and Nate Szymczak, was carried out in ether solutions. However, all steps but one also have been shown to work in water.

In the atmosphere, nitrogen gas is inert. However when nitrogen is converted to ammonia, it becomes available as a nitrogen source for plant growth – and as such is the fertilizer that drives the world’s food supply. Industry produces ammonia using the century-old Haber-Bosch process, which directly combines nitrogen from the air with hydrogen under extremely high pressures and temperatures.

"For the first time, we’ve been able to use hydrogen as the source of electrons in the laboratory fixation of nitrogen," Tyler said. "Until now people have had to use other sources of electrons that are not relevant to the Haber-Bosch process. The only other case in which hydrogen was used successfully required higher temperature and exotic materials."

"In the eyes of chemists, the conversion of nitrogen to ammonia in water, using simple hydrogen at room temperature and pressure is the holy grail of nitrogen fixation," Tyler said. "The next challenge is figuring out how to carry out the complete cycle in water."

The University of Oregon method parallels the Haber-Bosch process very closely by using the electrons in the hydrogen molecule as the source of electrons required in the fixing reaction. "This is simpler than any other solution put forward to date," Tyler said. "Other procedures involve the use of relatively exotic electron sources or they require elevated temperatures to complete the synthesis."

And, while the new method "provides one solution to a fascinating, fundamental scientific challenge," Tyler emphasized that it could be decades – if ever – before it will bridge from the bench to cost-effective industry use.

Tyler said the new approach to synthesizing ammonia took five years to achieve and was inspired by earlier advances made by his graduate students, who found ways to make complexes soluble in water. He pointed out that Gilbertson and Szymczak both are funded by the university’s National Science Foundation grant establishing research positions in Materials Science through the IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program.

"Solving problems of this magnitude takes a lot of student power and research dollars," Tyler said. "We’re building on advances achieved during the last 20 years. A lot of hard thought went into this, not only by me and my students, but by other researchers who came before us."

Students chosen for the IGERT program receive opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary research, teach at other campuses, and do internships at National Labs and private companies. Gilbertson, who will complete his doctorate in chemistry in August, will begin a teaching postdoctoral position at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas this fall. Szymczak currently has an internship at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

Melody Ward Leslie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://uoregon.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>