Miho Yamauchi and Masaki Takata from the RIKEN SPring-8 Center in Harima have led a research team that has found a way to detoxify the impact of ammonia fertilizers1.
Photoactive bimetallic nano catalysts were synthesized to produce hydrogen gas from water with solar energy. This will act as a catalyst and convert NO3 into NH3 efficiently eliminating carbon dioxide emissions.
Yamauchi says it is difficult to synthesize homogenous CuPd alloys. The two metal ions change to atomic states at varying rates, leading to a phase separation. The team used x-rays of the SPring-8 Center’s synchrotron to create the atomic structure of CuPd that has been synthesized with reagents. The research showed that a strong minimizing reagent called sodium borohydride provided alloys with mixing down to nanoscale sizes.
The nanoalloy was deposited on photosensitive titanium dioxide to create a material that could change UV radiation into energy electrons. The electrons caused hydrogen gas production from a water and methanol solution. When nitrate ions were added to this mixture, the CuPd/TiO2 catalyst changed almost 80% into ammonia. This was due to the concentration of reactive hydrogen photocatalytically generated close to the CuPd surface.