Chinese Journal of Catalysis ›› 2023, Vol. 50: 6-44.DOI: 10.1016/S1872-2067(23)64464-X

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Recent advances in electrocatalytic ammonia synthesis

Ling Ouyanga,b, Jie Liangb, Yongsong Luob, Dongdong Zhengb, Shengjun Sunc, Qian Liud, Mohamed S. Hamdye, Xuping Sunb,c,*(), Binwu Yinga,*()   

  1. aDepartment of Laboratory Medicine, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan, China
    bInstitute of Fundamental and Frontier Sciences, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610054, Sichuan, China
    cCollege of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, Shandong, China
    dInstitute for Advanced Study, Chengdu University, Chengdu 610106, Sichuan, China
    eDepartment of Chemistry, College of Science, King Khalid University, P.O. Box 9004, 61413 Abha, Saudi Arabia
  • Received:2023-02-18 Accepted:2023-05-29 Online:2023-07-18 Published:2023-07-25
  • Contact: *E-mail:, (X. Sun), (B. Ying).
  • About author:Xuping Sun received his PhD degree in Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry (CIAC), Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2006. During 2006-2009, he carried out postdoctoral researches at Konstanz University, University of Toronto, and Purdue University. In 2010, he started his independent research career as a full Professor at CIAC and then moved to Sichuan University in 2015. In 2018, he joined University of Electronic Science and Technology of China where he found the Research Center of Nanocatalysis & Sensing. He was recognized as a highly cited researcher (2018-2020) in both areas of chemistry and materials science by Clarivate Analytics. He published over 600 papers with total citations over 65000 and an h-index of 132. His research mainly focuses on rational design of nanocatalysts toward applications in electrosynthesis of green hydrogen and ammonia as well as electrochemical denitration of vehicle exhausts and industrial wastewater.
    Binwu Ying, MD, Postdoc, MBA, Professor, doctoral supervisor. Vice President of West China College of Medical Technology, Sichuan University, Director of Department of Laboratory Medicine, West China Clinical Medical College/West China Hospital Department of Laboratory Medicine. Standing member of the 11th Committee of the Chinese Medical Association Laboratory Medicine Committee, Standing member of the 4th Laboratory Medicine Branch of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, Chairman of the 12th Clinical Laboratory Medicine Committee of the Sichuan Medical Association, and president-elect of the 3rd Laboratory Medicine branch of the Sichuan Medical Doctor Association. Senior editorial board member of Chinese Chemical Letters, the editorial board member of Chinese Medical Journal, and the editorial board members of Chinese Journal of Laboratory Medicine, Journal of Sichuan University (Medical Edition), International Journal of Laboratory Science. He is mainly engaged in molecular diagnostic research of infectious diseases. He has published more than 200 papers and won 10 national invention patents.


Artificial electrocatalytic ammonia (NH3) synthesis is recently becoming a research hotspot. It can couple with clean renewable electricity, which is considered an energy-efficient and sustainable approach for regulating the recirculation of nitrogen species and meanwhile promoting the growth of a circular nitrogen economy. In this Account, we review recent advances in electrocatalytic ammonia synthesis. Firstly, we briefly introduce the research background and significance of three electrochemical NH3 synthesis routes: electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction, nitric oxide reduction, and nitrate/nitrite reduction. And then we give a detailed discussion of the latest research advances in electrocatalysts for ambient NH3 synthesis, mainly involving catalytic mechanisms, theoretical advances, and electrochemical performance. Finally, the existing challenges and future research needs for artificial electrosynthesis of NH3 are also highlighted.

Key words: Ammonia synthesis, Nitrogen reduction, Nitric oxide reduction, Nitrate/nitrite reduction, Electrocatalyst