DGIST research team led by Professor Sangaraju Shanmugam developed an eco-friendly ammonia catalyst

- Design and development of a hybrid core–shell electrocatalyst that converts air pollutants nitric oxide (NO) into ammonia (NH3). - A strategy to ensure the stability of an electrocatalyst during the NO gas reduction process.

□ DGIST research team, led by Professor Sangaraju Shanmugam, Department of Energy Engineering, developed a catalyst that converts nitric oxide (NO) to ammonia (NH3). This electrochemical  technology offers high Faradaic efficiency[1] and low overpotential[2] and produces NH3 in an eco-friendly manner. 


□ NH3 is an important chemical raw material in the fertilizer, textile, and pharmaceutical industries, and it is considered a carbon-free hydrogen carrier with a high energy density. Typically, NH3 is produced using the Haber–Bosch process[3]; however, this process is responsible for approximately 1–2% of global CO2 emissions.


□ The electrochemical conversion of NO to NH3, an alternative to the Haber–Bosch process, has received considerable attention. This eco-friendly method consumes the air pollutant NO gas to produce NH3. Therefore, this promising approach can replace conventional methods without affecting the environment or emitting CO2


□ However, owing to the corrosive nature of NO gas, the morphology of the metal-nanoparticle electrocatalyst degrades during electrosynthesis. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain a catalyst material with high stability that facilitates long-term electrochemical NH3 synthesis. 


□ Professor Shanmugam’s research team developed a core-shell nickel nanoparticle coated with nitrogen-doped carbon nanostructured electrocatalysts via a simple co-precipitation method for stable NH3 production. This catalyst is stable and efficient and offers a high Faradaic efficiency of 72.3% at a low overpotential (550 mV) in a 100% NO-saturated electrolyte. Additionally, a solar-to-NH3 efficiency of 1.7% and Faradaic efficiency of more than 50% were achieved using a solar-energy-assisted full-cell PV-NORR electrolyzer. 


□ Professor Shanmugam stated, “This research has developed an energy-efficient and eco-friendly technology to synthesize NH3 with zero carbon footprint, and we hope to commercialize this technology to contribute to environmental conservation and sustainability.”


□ This mid-level research project was conducted with support from the Korean National Research Foundation (NRF). The findings of this research were published in Advanced Science, a renowned academic Journal in the field of materials engineering. 


Correspondent author's e-mail address : [email protected] 

[1] Faradaic efficiency: A measure of the efficiency with which the charge is consumed only for the given electrochemical reaction. A Faradaic efficiency of close to 100% indicates efficient charge consumption for the desired reaction.

[2] Overpotential: It indicates the potential difference between the thermodynamically determined potential of an electrochemical reaction and the potential at which the reaction is observed experimentally.

[3] Haber-Bosch Process: It is a process that can synthesize ammonia in large quantities from the abundant nitrogen in the air, and it triggered the agricultural revolution through the production of synthetic fertilizers using ammonia.

Published: 19 Oct 2022

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