Electrochemical Nitrogen Reduction to Ammonia by Mo2N: Catalysis or Decomposition?

27 March 2019, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Electrocatalytic synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen (N2) representsa highly attractive approach to produce ammonia under more energy efficient and CO2-free conditions in comparison the well-known Haber-Bosch process. electrocatalytic N2 fixation has been under intensive exploration over last few years and has become a hot topic in catalysis. A number of heterogeneous electrocatalysts have been reported with various claimed performance for NRR recently. However, the research practice in this emerging field has been problematic as demonstrated in the submitted work.

Metal nitrides have been studied both theoretically and experimentally indicating their potential capability of electrocatalytic N2reduction. However, the nitrogen contained nature and chemical stability problem of the nitride materials could bring in ambiguous results. In the submitted manuscript, it is revealed that Mo2N could undergo fast chemical decomposition in aqueous electrolytes to generate ammonium (NH4+) and showed no catalytic activity for NRR. The present results call urgent attention to carefully evaluate the catalytic nature of nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) by nitrogen containing materials.In addition, we also highlight apparent pitfalls to avoid in determining catalytic NNR.


N2 fixing,
renewable energy
nitrogen reduction

Supplementary materials



Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.