Activating nano-bulk interplays for sustainable ammonia electrosynthesis

Meng Li, Bin Hua, Wei Wu, Lu-Cun Wang, Yong Ding, Martha M. Welander, Robert A. Walker, Dong Ding

October 2022 - Small changes in a catalyst’s composition, modification, and/or integration into a reactor can have significant yet often poorly understood effects on (electro)catalysis. Here we demonstrate the careful tailoring of Ru/La0.25Ce0.75O2−x catalysts through the post-synthesized hydrothermal treatment together with control over the Ru loadings to create hydroxyl groups and electronic restructuring for ammonia electrosynthesis. When integrated into a protonic ceramic electrolyzer, the in situ formed Ce3+−OH/Ru sites facilitate both the Ntriple bondN decoupling and Nsingle bondH formation at 400 °C and 1 bar of N2, boosting the ammonia production rate (2.92 mol h−1 m−2) up to 100-fold higher than the current state-of-the-art electrolyzers. Moreover, such catalysts and electrolyzer design concepts can be readily tuned to more complex applications such as coproducing ammonia and other chemicals with hydrocarbons as direct hydrogen sources. The creation of coordinated saturated support –OH/metal sites in the advanced electrolyzer offers an attractive approach for future clean-energy and green-chemical industries.

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