Solar driven electrochemical nitrogen fixation for ammonia refinery
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Descrizione del progetto
The preservation of our planet is the most urgent issue in the world, and the COP21 conference pushed a lot of researchers to work on technologies for the storage/conversion of CO2 into chemicals.
However, since I believe that it is easier not to produce CO2 than setting-up plants to treat it, I propose an alternative breakthrough based on a versatile solar-driven strategy leading to redesign industrial processes. Facing the Haber-Bosch process for ammonia production (one of the most impactful chemical processes today), I propose the electrochemical fixation of dinitrogen into ammonia, by simply using air, water and ambient conditions.
I will demonstrate an integrated device where a photovoltaic (PV) unit will power a regenerative electrocatalytic cell converting dinitrogen to ammonia (E-NRR).
A newly proposed Li-mediated approach under mild conditions, derived from a interdisciplinary contamination between electrocatalysis and Li-batteries, will be the key towards a >95% N2 conversion, bypassing both the competitive hydrogen reduction reaction and the complete irreproducibility of recent E-NRR approaches attributed to N-contaminations or degradation of N-based catalysts.
I will further move beyond the state-of-the-art by fabricating transparent devices, that can be integrated in greenhouses, allowing the production of ammonia and ammonium fertilizers directly in farms, bypassing the known issues related to the massive infrastructure of ammonia plants and difficulties in reaching remote communities. The proposed approach will significantly impact also the field of liquid fuels, being ammonia safer and with higher energy density than hydrogen.
Achieving these goals will require multidisciplinary expertise in the field of chemical, material, process and device engineering.
In my career I have demonstrated skills in similarly complex projects and in each of these challenging fields, bringing to technological and socio-economic benefits.