APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Production of ammonia for crop fertilizer
- Advanced amine synthesis
- Distributed nitrogen fixation in remote/sensitive areas
- Cost effective – made from cheap and readily available materials
- Reduced energy consumption compared to Haber Bosch process
- Improved selectivity
- Versatility – can be used for more advanced amine synthesis, in ambient conditions, and in remote/sensitive locations in which the Haber Bosch process is not feasible
- Convenience – uses liquid silanes as source of electrophiles
The Haber-Bosch process, which is a chemical process for the production of ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas, is a key contributor to the world’s food supply and chemical industry. However, this process is energy intensive and requires high temperatures and pressures to proceed. The Haber-Bosch process consumes around 2% of the world’s energy and is also dependent on non-renewable resources such as natural gas, which poses sustainability issues. Cost-efficient catalysts that allow for the production of ammonia to operate under ambient conditions are needed to lower the energy consumption of this process.
Berkeley lab scientists have developed catalysts that can improve upon the Haber Bosch process for production of ammonia. These catalysts are made of cheap, earth-abundant metals such as titanium or zirconium, which can function under ambient conditions instead of the high-temperature and high-pressure conditions required by the Haber Bosch process. Additionally, the catalysts can selectively convert dinitrogen into secondary amines, offering unprecedented chemical specificity compared to the Haber Bosch process. The catalysts also have the potential for distributed nitrogen fixation, meaning they can be used in remote or sensitive locations where large-scale Haber Bosch processes are unfeasible, or where limited energy supplies are available to provide the driving force needed for conventional nitrogen fixation.
Basic principles observed and reported
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Wong, Anthony, et al. “Catalytic Dinitrogen Conversion to Secondary Silylamines using Bimetallic Titanium Aryloxides.” (2023).
Polly Arnold, Francis Lam, Michael Trinh, Anthony Wong, Matthew Hernandez
Available for licensing or collaborative research