Ultra-small metal cluster catalyst for ammonia synthesis

January 22, 2024

Cleavage of nitrogen molecule and continuous synthesis of ammonia were realized under mild conditions

A joint research group of RIKEN CSRS, the University of Tokyo, and Hokkaido University have succeeded in creating catalysts in which metal clusters consisting of about six atoms are incorporated into innumerable pores, and continuously synthesizing ammonia (NH3) from nitrogen molecule (N2) in the air by using this catalyst even at a low temperature.
The joint research group has created the metal-cluster catalyst with a size of not more than 1 nanometer (nm, 1 nm is one-billionth meter) by incorporation of molybdenum (Mo) metal cluster coordinated with halogen into porous supports with pores and removal of all the halide ligands using a simple method of heat treatment at one atmosphere of hydrogen. This catalyst is capable of effectively cleaving stable N2 by the cooperation of multiple Mo atoms and continuously synthesizing ammonia under a mild condition.

The results of this research suggest a new synthetic approach to ultra-small metal clusters and enable synthesis of ammonia fuel, which do not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) at the time of combustion, under a mild condition. Contribution to energy saving and decarbonized society is therefore expected.

Original article
Chemical Science doi: 10.1039/D3SC05447K
S. Kamiguchi, K. Asakura, T. Shibayama, T. Yokaichiya, T. Ikeda, A. Nakayama, K. Shimizu, Z. Hou,
"Catalytic ammonia synthesis on HY zeolite-supported angstrom-size molybdenum cluster".
Satoshi Kamiguchi; Senior Research Scientist
Zhaomin Hou; Group Director
Advanced Catalysis Research Group