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Electrochemical Haber-Bosch process for ammonia production; 50% the CO2 and 25% the energy

Ammonia, produced via the Haber-Bosch (HB) process, is globally the leading chemical in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. In ammonia plants, hydrogen is generated by steam-methane reforming (SMR) and water-gas shift (WGS) and, subsequently, is purified for the high-pressure ammonia synthesis.

Now, a team of researchers in Greece has demonstrated how these steps can be integrated into a single BaZrO3-based protonic ceramic membrane reactor (PCMR), operating at atmospheric pressure. Hydrogen generation occurs on a Ni-composite electrode, while VN-Fe is the ammonia synthesis electrocatalyst.

Hydrogen extraction from the reforming compartment enhances the thermodynamically limited methane conversions, whereas 5%–14% of the pumped protons are converted to ammonia.

They designed an electrochemical HB process by combining this PCMR with a protonic ceramic fuel cell to recover electricity and separate nitrogen from ambient air by exploiting by-product hydrogen. This process could potentially require less energy and release less carbon dioxide emissions than its conventional counterpart—50% the CO2 and 25% the energy—holding promise for sustainable decentralized applications. A paper on their work appears in the journal Joule.





Wow - big deal if it works out at scale.
Very big deal.


This is many times as important as BEV cars.

It is absurd how much attention (and money) they get.


Without ammonia for fertilizer, we could not feed billions of people on the planet.


Replacing autothermal reforming with electric energy generates 8 hydrogen atoms from each molecule of CH4 (the excess H comes from water).  This is a solid advance.  It's only PARTIAL decarbonization of the process, but the pure CO2 effluent is going to be far easier to isolate from the environment than just about anything else.

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