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Experimental and theoretical study of the fundamental mechanisms of nitrogen fixation by plasma and plasma-catalysis: towards the development of novel, environmentally friendly and efficient processes.

Nitrogen is a crucial element for living organisms on earth. Transforming atmospheric N2 into
molecules that can be incorporated by most organisms (N2 fixation) is either done by
microorganisms or through energetically costly chemical processes (lightning strikes, Haber-
Bosch (H-B) process). As the theoretical limit for the energy consumption of N2 fixation via
non-thermal plasma (NTP) is more than 2.5 times lower than the energy consumption of the
H-B process, this project aims to exploit NTP processes to fix N2 by reduction and by
oxidation. The objective is to acquire an in depth understanding of the N2 fixation
mechanisms in N2/O2 and N2/CH4 plasmas by combining experimental and numerical
investigations of a wide range of gas and plasma-liquid discharges. To increase the N2 fixation
rate and the yield, plasma catalysis will also be studied in the same gas mixtures. Catalysts will
be prepared traditionally but also by plasma-based calcination and plasma-based modification
of supports and synthesized catalysts. By successfully completing this project, we will gain
fundamental understanding of the mechanisms and master plasma assisted N2 fixation in the
gas phase, liquid phase and on catalyst surfaces. This consortium includes all major Belgian
players in the field of gas conversion by NTPs, establishing a competent workforce (12 PhDs
and 7 post-docs; most of them joint between 2 partners) to gather the necessary
competences required to reach the challenging project goals.

Date:1 Jan 2018  →  Today
Keywords:nitrogen fixation
Disciplines:Other physical sciences, Classical physics, Elementary particle and high energy physics