Where them Haber fanboys?

A new age for synthetic fertilisers? In this article we’ll take a look at the paper “Selective electrocatalytic synthesis of urea with nitrate and carbon dioxide”, which delves into a novel sustainable pathway for urea production. Is the time for Haber over?


Urea, the synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, is conventionally produced by combining CO2 with NH3. This NH3 classically comes from the Haber-Bosch process, a giant in the age of industrial Earth.

Frequently underestimated, often misunderstood, synthetic fertilisers have a problem: they love energy. In fact, practices like Haber-Bosch love energy so much that 2% of annual global energy is approximately consumed by urea synthesis processes.

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This paper wants to put a stop to this. Through detailed experimentation, Lv et al. have created a more sustainable route for urea  production.  This involves reacting C02 with N03- (NH3’s sexy cousin) through electrocatalytic coupling on an indium hydroxide  (In(OH)3) catalyst. The best part? It’s done at room temperature. Will the days of 400-500°C and 100–200bar soon be behind us?

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