• Safi Bello

Biological Fuel Cell Could Power Cleaner Ammonia Production

Chemistry World ---- Ammonia-producing proteins from humble nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria could help flip humanity's fertilizer consumption from a massive energy drain into a power generator, thanks to a biofuel cell that reacts atmospheric nitrogen with hydrogen. Today's dominant and energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process also uses nitrogen and hydrogen to make ammonia. But its conditions, at around 500˚C and 200 times atmospheric pressure, mean it contributes up to 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. 'We could do it at room temperature and ambient pressure while simultaneously producing small quantities of electrical energy,' says Shelley Minteer from the University of Utah, US, whose team developed the fuel cell. Most biological fuel cells focus on increasing electricity generation from oxygen and hydrogen or glucose. By contrast, Minteer's team realized that they could use nitrogrogenase enzyme to replace the oxygen with nitrogen. Nitrogenase hasn't been exploited before partly because it degrades in oxygen. For more information on biological fuel cell powering cleaner ammonia production click on the picture below to read the article.

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