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Sustainable synthesis of amino acids by catalytic fixation of molecular dinitrogen and carbon dioxide

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Abstract

The industrial process of nitrogen fixation is complex and results in a huge economic and environmental impact. It requires a catalyst and high temperature and pressure to induce the rupture of the strong N–N bond and subsequent hydrogenation. On the other hand, carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere has become a priority objective due to the high amount of global carbon dioxide emissions (i.e. 36 200 million tons in 2015). In this work, we fix nitrogen from N2 and carbon from CO2 and CH4 to obtain both glycine and alanine (D/L racemic mixture), the two simplest amino acids. The synthesis, catalyzed by polarized hydroxyapatite under UV light irradiation and conducted in an inert reaction chamber, starts from a simple gas mixture containing N2, CO2, CH4 and H2O and uses mild reaction conditions. At atmospheric pressure and 95 °C, the glycine and alanine molar yields with respect to CH4 or CO2 are about 1.9% and 1.6%, respectively, but they grow to 3.4% and 2.4%, when the pressure increases to 6 bar and the temperature is maintained at 95 °C. Besides, the minimum temperature required for the successful production of detectable amounts of amino acids is 75 °C. Accordingly, an artificial photosynthetic process has been developed by using an electrophotocatalyst based on hydroxyapatite thermally and electrically stimulated and coated with zirconyl chloride and a phosphonate. The synthesis of amino acids by direct fixation of nitrogen and carbon from gas mixtures opens new avenues regarding the nitrogen fixation for industrial purposes and the recycling of carbon dioxide.

Graphical abstract: Sustainable synthesis of amino acids by catalytic fixation of molecular dinitrogen and carbon dioxide

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 Sep 2017, accepted on 18 Dec 2017 and first published on 18 Dec 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7GC02911J
Citation: Green Chem., 2018, Advance Article
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    Sustainable synthesis of amino acids by catalytic fixation of molecular dinitrogen and carbon dioxide

    M. Rivas, L. J. del Valle, P. Turon, C. Alemán and J. Puiggalí, Green Chem., 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7GC02911J

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