Research Article


2019, 12(4): 919–924


Hexagonal boron nitride nanosheet for effective ambient N2 fixation to NH3

Ya Zhang1,§, Huitong Du2,§, Yongjun Ma3, Lei Ji1, Haoran Guo4, Ziqi Tian4, Hongyu Chen1, Hong Huang1, Guanwei Cui5, Abdullah M. Asiri6, Fengli Qu3 (*), Liang Chen4 (*), and Xuping Sun1 (*)

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1 Institute of Fundamental and Frontier Sciences, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610054, China
2 College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Qufu Normal University, Qufu 273165, China
3 Analytical and Test Center, Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang 621010, China
4 Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ningbo 315201, China
5 College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China
6 Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science & Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials Research, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 80203, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
§ Ya Zhang and Huitong Du contributed equally to this work.

Keywords: boron nitride nanosheet, N2 reduction reaction, NH3 electrosynthesis, ambient conditions, density functional theory
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Industrial production of NH3 from N2 and H2 significantly relies on Haber−Bosch process, which suffers from high energy consume and CO2 emission. As a sustainable and environmentally-benign alternative process, electrochemical artificial N2 fixation at ambient conditions, however, is highly required efficient electrocatalysts. In this study, we demonstrate that hexagonal boron nitride nanosheet (h-BNNS) is able to electrochemically catalyze N2 to NH3. In acidic solution, h-BNNS catalyst attains a high NH3 formation rate of 22.4 μg·h−1·mg−1cat. and a high Faradic efficiency of 4.7% at −0.75 V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode, with excellent stability and durability. Density functional theory calculations reveal that unsaturated boron at the edge site can activate inert N2 molecule and significantly reduce the energy barrier for NH3 formation.
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Hexagonal boron nitride nanosheet for effective ambient N2 fixation to NH3. Nano Res. 2019, 12(4): 919–924

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