Selective electrochemical reduction of nitric oxide to hydroxylamine by atomically dispersed iron catalyst
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An electrocatalyst based on single iron atoms can efficiently convert nitric oxide into a valuable chemical that could play a key role in the hydrogen economy.
The widespread use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture has unbalanced the global nitrogen cycle and led to nitric oxide accumulating in the environment.
But environmentally friendly possibilities for electrocatalytically converting problematic chemicals such as nitric oxide into valuable compounds are emerging thanks to the increasing availability of renewable electricity generation.
Now, researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have used an electrocatalyst based on single iron atoms dispersed across a nitrogen–carbon substrate to efficiently convert nitric oxide into hydroxylamine — a chemical feedstock used in producing nylon and also of interest as a potential carrier molecule for clean hydrogen fuel.
When the researchers incorporated the catalyst into a fuel cell, the device efficiently consumed nitric oxide to produce hydroxylamine with no significant deactivation after 50 hours of operation.
- Nature Communications 12, 1856 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22147-7