Ultra-Low Loading of Gold on Nickel Foam for Nitrogen Electrochemistry

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2023 Oct 27;13(21):2850. doi: 10.3390/nano13212850.


Ammonia (NH3) is widely used in various fields, and it is also considered a promising carbon free energy carrier, due to its high hydrogen content. The nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR), which converts nitrogen into ammonia by using protons from water as the hydrogen source, is receiving a lot of attention, since effective process optimization would make it possible to overcome the Haber-Bosch method. In this study, we used a solution-based approach to obtain functionalized porous Ni foam substrates with a small amount of gold (<0.1 mg cm-1). We investigated several deposition conditions and obtained different morphologies. The electrochemical performance of various catalysts on the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and NRR has been characterized. The ammonia production yield was determined by chronoamperometry experiments at several potentials, and the results showed a maximum ammonia yield rate of 20 µg h-1 mgcat-1 and a Faradaic efficiency of 5.22%. This study demonstrates the potential of gold-based catalysts for sustainable ammonia production and highlights the importance of optimizing deposition conditions to improve the selectivity toward HER.

Keywords: ammonia synthesis; catalysts; gold nanoparticles; nitrogen electroreduction.