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 Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>