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 Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>