Splitting and Hydrogenating Molecular Nitrogen at Ambient Temperature and Pressure

June 28, 2013

RIKEN CSRS has successfully created a novel multi-metallic titanium polyhydride compound, which can cleave the dinitrogen bond and make nitrogen–hydrogen bond at ambient temperature and pressure without additional reducing agents or proton sources. This result offers hope in the search for mild dinitrogen reduction catalysts.

The titanium polyhydride compound can generate sufficient electrons to break nitrogen triple bonds by elimination of H2, which is a source of two electrons for each H2 unit lost, and act as a hydrogen source for ammonia precursors. The multiple metal centers enhance the N2 activation and hydrogenation through cooperative effects. This is unprecedented to observe N2 activation, N–N bond cleavage and N–H bond formation steps in one reaction.

Though the catalytic formation of ammonia has not yet been achieved, the multi-metallic systems may provide a unique opportunity to develop innovative nitrogen fixation strategies.

Original article
Science doi: 10.1126/science.1238663
T. Shima, S. Hu, G. Luo, X. Kang, Y. Luo, Z. Hou,
"Dinitrogen Cleavage and Hydrogenation by a Trinuclear Titanium Polyhydride Complex".
Zhaomin Hou: Group Director
Takanori Shima: Senior Research Scientist
Advanced Catalysis Research Group