Tailoring widely used ammonia synthesis catalysts for H and N poisoning resistance†
Despite many advancements, an inexpensive ammonia synthesis catalyst free from hydrogen and nitrogen poisoning, and capable of synthesizing ammonia under mild conditions is still unknown and is long sought-after. Here we present an active nanoalloy catalyst, RuFe, formed by alloying highly active Ru and inexpensive Fe, capable of activating both N2 and H2 without blocking the surface active sites and thereby overcoming the major hurdle faced by the current best performing pure metal catalysts. This novel RuFe nanoalloy catalyst operates under milder conditions than the conventional Fe catalyst and is less expensive than the so far best performing Ru-based catalysts providing additional advantages. Most importantly, by integrating theory and experiments, we identified the underlying mechanisms responsible for lower surface poisoning of this catalyst, which will provide directions for fabricating poison-free efficient NH3 synthesis catalysts in future.