Potential Economic Feasibility of Direct Electrochemical Nitrogen Reduction as a Route to Ammonia

Gal Hochman, Alan S. Goldman, Frank A. Felder, James M. Mayer, Alexander J.M. Miller, Patrick L. Holland, Leo A. Goldman, Patricia Manocha, Ze Song, Saketh Aleti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Haber-Bosch process produces ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases in a globally important energy-intensive process that uses coal or natural gas as a fuel and hydrogen source. Direct electrochemical ammonia synthesis from nitrogen and water using renewable energy sources presents an alternative to the Haber-Bosch process that would be more sustainable. Additionally, the different production structure of direct electrochemical nitrogen reduction technology suggests a supply chain alternative to the ammonia industry and a method for load leveling of the electrical grid. This alternative route to ammonia from dinitrogen would require smaller capital investments than the Haber-Bosch process and would not require a fossil fuel supply. The impact of dynamic electrical power pricing is analyzed for a system that could take advantage of pricing volatility. We show that, under certain scenarios, at achievable levels of energy efficiency with a future electrocatalyst, direct nitrogen reduction would be economically competitive or advantageous compared with Haber-Bosch-based ammonia production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8938-8948
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Jun 22 2020


  • ammonia
  • dynamic electricity pricing
  • electrochemical nitrogen reduction
  • sustainable fertilizer production
  • sustainable nitrogen fixation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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