NitroFix ($4M Seed funding for on-site green ammonia production from water and air to decarbonize agriculture)

NitroFix, an Israeli cleantech startup founded in 2022, develops the technology to make ammonia by electrochemically reducing nitrogen using its unique polyoxometalate molecular catalysts. This technology allows for the on-site production of ammonia using water, air, and renewable electricity and is easily scalable to fit the needs of any size operation.

Challenges: green ammonia

Ammonia (NH₃) is a crucial compound for agriculture. In 2021, the global production of ammonia was 185 million metric tons, with over 80% being used for fertilizer production. As the global population increases, so does the demand for ammonia.

The primary method of ammonia production is the Haber-Bosch process, which converts hydrogen (H₂) and nitrogen (N₂) into ammonia. World-scale ammonia synthesis plants can produce up to 5,000 metric tons per day. They are usually situated in remote areas with cheap natural gas. The produced ammonia is transported considerable distances to customers and contributes to carbon emissions.

The Haber-Bosch process requires very high purity hydrogen and nitrogen and high temperature and pressure (above 450 ºC and 200 bar, respectively), which are highly optimized for the iron-based catalysts to attain significant yields of ammonia. The energy-intensive nature of the process results in the consumption of about 2% of worldwide fossil fuels and an annual emission of over 420 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO₂). The production of ammonia contributes to 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop technologies for ammonia synthesis in a sustainable manner. The utilization of renewable energy to convert nitrogen into ammonia represents a promising approach for the production of green ammonia.

NitroFix Technology

NitroFix has developed the technology to make ammonia using nitrogen and water in an electrochemical cell powered by renewable electricity. The electrochemical synthesis of ammonia is conducted at low pressure and ambient temperature. The core technology of NitroFix is the unique polyoxometalate molecular catalysts, which selectively catalyze the electrochemical reduction of nitrogen to ammonia. The ammonia yield rate is 1-2 nmol sec⁻¹ cm⁻² with a moderate faradaic efficiency of 25–30%. The performance can be improved further by optimizing the design of the electrochemical cell system, molecular catalysts, and electrolyte compositions.

NitroFix ammonia

The diagram below illustrates the NitroFix electrochemical cell for the electrocatalytic reduction of nitrogen to ammonia.

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