Professor Hideo Hosono and Professor Tokazu Hara of Tokyo Institute of Technology have succeeded in increasing the activity of the catalyst used for ammonia synthesis by more than 10 times.In addition to being a raw material for fertilizers, it may be possible to more efficiently produce ammonia, which has begun to attract attention as a carrier for hydrogen energy.
Nitrogen is a substance that is a material for proteins that are indispensable for living organisms.Although it is abundant in the air, there was no way in nature to directly use nitrogen in the air, except for some organisms called rhizobia.In response, in 1906, Harbor et al. Of Germany developed a technology to produce ammonia by increasing the temperature of nitrogen and hydrogen to a high temperature of 500 ° C and a high pressure of 500 atm.Although it consumes a lot of energy, the availability of nitrogen in the air has made mass production of fertilizer possible.The production of ammonia has been an important technology for humankind for more than 100 years, but in recent years, its use as a substance for transporting hydrogen for the full-scale hydrogen society has begun to be considered.With its use as energy, reducing the energy required for manufacturing has become an important issue.
For this reason, catalysts that can synthesize ammonia at low temperatures and low pressures are attracting attention. A substance called C12A7 electride is a catalyst that can synthesize ammonia even at normal pressure.However, it had a problem that the effect of promoting the reaction was insufficient and the production efficiency was poor.Therefore, the group enhanced the movement of electrons inside the catalyst by sprinkling a metal called ruthenium on the surface of the catalyst.When the efficiency of the catalyst subjected to this treatment was measured, it became clear that the catalytic activity was more than 10 times higher.
Ammonia has an impressive strong odor, but it is also a very important substance in industry.And it is expected that its importance will increase more and more toward the transition to a hydrogen-based society.In addition to meeting that demand, it is expected to contribute to reducing fertilizer production costs.