Beheading a Century-Old Chemical Process

De-carbonizing the fossil-intensive chemicals and petrochemcials industries will help achieve a “net-zero” sustainable society. A recent report has targeted nitric acid production, an important feedstock for the production of dyes, pigments, nylon, explosives, and fertilizers. Currently, nitric acid is produced via catalytic ammonia synthesis and subsequent oxidation, but the high temperature and pressure (800-950°C, 12 atmospheres) and poor selectivity to NO lead to deleteriously high greenhouse gas CO2 and N2O emissions. In this work, a new two-step, chemical looping process has been invented which uses lattice oxygen instead of oxygen gas to oxidize NH3 to NO with increased selectivity (99.8%) and under milder reaction temperature (650 C). See full story at Advanced Science News.

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