Ruthenium-catalysed oxidative conversion of ammonia into dinitrogen
Kazunari Nakajima, Hiroki Toda, Ken Sakata,* and Yoshiaki Nishibayashi*
Conversion of ammonia into dinitrogen has attracted broad scientific interest in relation to molecular models of the heterogeneous nitrogen fixation process, environmental treatment for denitrification and utilization of ammonia as an energy carrier. Here we show that some ruthenium complexes bearing 2,2′-bipyridyl-6,6′-dicarboxylate ligands work as catalysts for the ammonia oxidation reaction. Production of dinitrogen is observed when ammonium salts are treated with a triarylaminium radical as an oxidant and 2,4,6-collidine as a base in the presence of the ruthenium catalysts. Based on the characterization of some intermediates, we propose a reaction pathway via a bimetallic nitride–nitride coupling process. The proposed reaction pathway is supported by density functional theory calculations. Further investigation of the ammonia oxidation reaction under the electrochemical conditions revealed that the ruthenium complex works as a new anode catalyst for ammonia oxidation.
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