RSC School Seminar - Prof Doug McFarlane (Monash)

Title: Towards the Hydrogen-Ammonia Economy: Progress on Electrochemical N2 Reduction to Ammonia


In current discussions of new industries on the path to a zero net carbon future, "green hydrogen" – producing hydrogen fuel using renewable energy – features prominently.  The dream is capturing abundant but variable renewable resources – wind and sunshine – in a storable and transportable form, for example as “green ammonia”.  

This talk will look at progress and missteps in the search for processes that can produce ammonia from renewable energy at ambient temperatures and pressures. While the reduction of N2 in aqueous media seems possible, thermodynamically, with the right catalyst, the literature is littered with false positives. On the other hand, the lithium mediated approach, which involves lithium electrochemistry in an aprotic electrolyte, has recently emerged1 as a front runner, holding the promise of a genuinely practical process and we will discuss this in detail.

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