Alternative route for electrochemical ammonia synthesis by reduction of nitrate on copper nanosheets

Xianbiao Fu, Xingang Zhao, Xiaobing Hu, Kun He, Yanan Yu, Tao Li, Qing Tu, Xin Qian, Qin Yue, Michael R. Wasielewski, Yijin Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We propose an efficient and clean avenue for ammonia synthesis, via electroreduction of nitrate which could be obtained from industrial wastewater, domestic sewage, sodium nitrate ore, and nitrification of bacteria and electrochemical oxidation of nitrogen, which addresses the water pollution issues and simultaneously upgrades the nitrate to high-value ammonia. At a low overpotential of −0.15 V versus RHE, Cu nanosheets achieved an ammonia formation rate of 390.1 μg mg−1 Cu h−1 and a Faradaic efficiency of 99.7%, attributed to suppression of the HER activity and apparent improvement of the rate of rate-determining step on Cu (111). Such an ammonia formation rate is more than two orders of magnitude higher than electrochemical nitrogen reduction reaction to ammonia. This work not only develops a powerful strategy to the rational design of robust and efficient catalysts by crystal facet engineering, but also provides an alternative route for electrochemical ammonia synthesis by reduction of nitrate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100620
JournalApplied Materials Today
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020



  • Copper nanocubes
  • Copper nanosheets
  • Electroreduction of nitrate
  • Electrosynthesis ammonia
  • Two dimensional material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

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