Highly Selective Electrochemical Nitrate to Ammonia Conversion by Dispersed Ru in a Multielement Alloy Catalyst

Meiqi Yang, Boyang Li, Shuke Li, Qi Dong, Zhennan Huang, Sunxiang Zheng, Ying Fang, Guangye Zhou, Xi Chen, Xiaobo Zhu, Tangyuan Li, Miaofang Chi, Guofeng Wang, Liangbing Hu, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Electrochemical reduction of nitrate to ammonia (NH3) converts an environmental pollutant to a critical nutrient. However, current electrochemical nitrate reduction operations based on monometallic and bimetallic catalysts are limited in NH3 selectivity and catalyst stability, especially in acidic environments. Meanwhile, catalysts with dispersed active sites generally exhibit a higher atomic utilization and distinct activity. Herein, we report a multielement alloy nanoparticle catalyst with dispersed Ru (Ru-MEA) with other synergistic components (Cu, Pd, Pt). Density functional theory elucidated the synergy effect of Ru-MEA than Ru, where a better reactivity (NH3 partial current density of −50.8 mA cm-2) and high NH3 faradaic efficiency (93.5%) is achieved in industrially relevant acidic wastewater. In addition, the Ru-MEA catalyst showed good stability (e.g., 19.0% decay in FENH3 in three hours). This work provides a potential systematic and efficient catalyst discovery process that integrates a data-guided catalyst design and novel catalyst synthesis for a range of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7733-7742
Number of pages10
JournalNano Letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 23 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • General Materials Science


  • acidic
  • ammonia
  • electrochemical nitrate reduction
  • industrial wastewater
  • multielement alloy catalyst


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