Scientists discover a new process to create ammonia

A different method of creating ammonia was discovered by researchers from the University of Utah. The new method uses enzymes derived from nature, which generate ammonia at room temperature, as well as a small electrical current. The research documenting this new technique was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Almost a century ago, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Fritz Haber, the German chemist who managed to create ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gas. Back then, the method — which is still employed today — revolutionised agriculture. However, this process is very costly, as producing ammonia through this technique accounts for approximately 1 per cent of the worldwide energy.
The researchers have only managed to produce a small quantity of ammonia so far. However, this new technique could significantly reduce the energy needed to produce ammonia, which is a substance used globally as a fertiliser in agriculture.
Ammonia is made of one atom of nitrogen and three atoms of hydrogen. Because of the very strong bond holding two nitrogen atoms together, researchers have to find a way of breaking it, either by reducing the nitrogen or by adding protons and electrons.
“Enzymatic fuel cells (EFCs) are devices that utilize redox enzymes as bioelectrocatalysts at anodic and cathodic electrode surfaces. Such devices can operate at room temperature, ambient pressure, and near-neutral pH, all of which are highly desirable for alternative NH3 production,” noted the research.