Electrosynthesis of ammonia with high selectivity and high rates via engineering of the solid-electrolyte interphase

Shaofeng Li, Yuanyuan Zhou, Katja Li, Mattia Saccoccio, Rokas Sažinas, Suzanne Z. Andersen, Jakob B. Pedersen, Xianbiao Fu, Vahid Shadravan, Debasish Chakraborty, Jakob Kibsgaard, Peter C.K. Vesborg, Jens K. Nørskov*, Ib Chorkendorff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Ammonia is a large-scale commodity essential to fertilizer production, but the Haber-Bosch process leads to massive emissions of carbon dioxide. Electrochemical ammonia synthesis is an attractive alternative pathway, but the process is still limited by low ammonia production rate and faradaic efficiency. Herein, guided by our theoretical model, we present a highly efficient lithium-mediated process enabled by using different lithium salts, leading to the formation of a uniform solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer on a porous copper electrode. The uniform lithium-fluoride-enriched SEI layer provides an ammonia production rate of 2.5 ± 0.1 μmol s−1 cmgeo−2 at a current density of −1 A cmgeo−2 with 71% ± 3% faradaic efficiency under 20 bar nitrogen. Experimental X-ray analysis reveals that the lithium tetrafluoroborate electrolyte induces the formation of a compact and uniform SEI layer, which facilitates homogeneous lithium plating, suppresses the undesired hydrogen evolution as well as electrolyte decomposition, and enhances the nitrogen reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)2083-2101
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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