SUBJECT: M.S. Thesis Presentation
BY: Carlos Arturo Fernandez Otero
TIME: Thursday, July 16, 2020, 3:00 p.m.
PLACE:, Online
TITLE: Thermodynamic and Economic Considerations for Low-Temperature Electrochemical Nitrogen Fixation Technologies
COMMITTEE: Dr. Marta Hatzell, Chair (ME)
Dr. Peter Loutzenhiser (ME)
Dr. Andrew Medford (ChBE)


Connecting cost to performance parameters, such as activity and selectivity is important to guide the direction of future research in the field and speed the advancement of the renewable and decentralized production of fertilizers through electrochemical methods. State-of-the-art ammonia synthesis technologies (Haber-Bosch process) operate at high temperatures and pressures to synthesize ammonia at high efficiencies. However, the elevated temperatures and pressures lead to high capital costs which make this technology only viable in developed countries. Electrochemical methods can produce ammonia at near ambient conditions. Additionally, electrochemical technologies can be scaled down, decreasing the system's footprint and capital cost. However, these systems have poor selectivity towards nitrogen and low energy efficiencies. Here, a theoretical investigation of the economics of low-temperature ammonia electrosynthesis aims to explore the performance targets that must be achieved for economic viability and highlight a pathway for technology adoption.

This work studies the thermodynamic and kinetic considerations for electrochemical and thermochemical approaches for ammonia production. Specifically, the effect of temperature in the kinetics and thermodynamics of the reaction. Finally, this work introduces a techno-economic model to evaluate the economic viability of low-temperature electrochemical ammonia synthesis and highlight a pathway for sequential improvement of the technology.