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Sustainable (re)sources


Civilization started around 9000 BC with the agricultural revolution, and since then the well‐being of humankind has relied on agriculture. In turn, agriculture has come to rely on fertilisers as an important source of plant nutrients, especially ammonia, to ensure generous harvest. Although plants are able to uptake nitrogen from air and converting it into ammonium ions, this process alone is not effective considering the extensive agricultural production worldwide. A sustainable solution relies on the electrochemical reduction of N2 into NH3, in the presence of a suitable catalyst. Theoretical studies have predicted transition metal nitrides and transition metal oxides to be active electrocatalysts for NRR.


Current research focuses on bimetallic nitride for NRR to explore whether synergistic effects between two transition metals can help in tuning the final electronic structure, to improves the optimal balance between N2 adsorption and NH3 desorption (rate-determining step of NRR) thus reducing the activation barriers of the reaction. The bimetallic compound has different bonding capabilities for different atoms, thus making it easier to have a specific selectivity towards the target NRR.


ref Li, X.; Giordano, C. Designed NiMoC@C and NiFeMo2C@C Core-Shell Nanoparticles for Oxygen Evolution in Alkaline Media. Front. Chem 2023, 11, doi:10.3389/fchem.2023.1162675.

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Metallic ceramics (MCs) have similar electronic structures to noble metals and compared to their parental metals, they show similar or superior catalytic activity, with a further advantage to show tuneable selectivity. These characteristics make MCs complementary/alternative to classical systems.

As part of our research, we design functional nanomaterials as alternative systems to more expensive and/or scarcer catalysts, e.g., Platinum Group Metals, for (electro-)catalytic processes, such as Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER), Oxygen Evolution Reaction (OER), Nitrogen Reduction (NRR) and more. Catalysts are synthesised via the Urea Glass Route that allows to tune the composition, morphology and properties of the final material.

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