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Title: Sustainable Ammonia Synthesis – Exploring the scientific challenges associated with discovering alternative, sustainable processes for ammonia production

Ammonia (NH3) is essential to all life on our planet. Until about 100 years ago, NH3 produced by reduction of dinitrogen (N2) in air came almost exclusively from bacteria containing the enzyme nitrogenase.. DOE convened a roundtable of experts on February 18, 2016. Participants in the Roundtable discussions concluded that the scientific basis for sustainable processes for ammonia synthesis is currently lacking, and it needs to be enhanced substantially before it can form the foundation for alternative processes. The Roundtable Panel identified an overarching grand challenge and several additional scientific grand challenges and research opportunities: -Discovery of active, selective, scalable, long-lived catalysts for sustainable ammonia synthesis. -Development of relatively low pressure (<10 atm) and relatively low temperature (<200 C) thermal processes. -Integration of knowledge from nature (enzyme catalysis), molecular/homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. -Development of electrochemical and photochemical routes for N2 reduction based on proton and electron transfer -Development of biochemical routes to N2 reduction -Development of chemical looping (solar thermochemical) approaches -Identification of descriptors of catalytic activity using a combination of theory and experiments -Characterization of surface adsorbates and catalyst structures (chemical, physical and electronic) under conditions relevant to ammonia synthesis.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [3]
  1. Stanford Univ., CA (United States); ; SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
  2. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States); Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  3. Dept. of Energy (DOE), Washington DC (United States). Office of Science
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Program Document
Research Org:
US DOE Office of Science
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States