Revisiting the electrochemical oxidation of ammonia on carbon-supported metal nanoparticle catalysts

Zhe Fei Li, Yuxuan Wang, Gerardine G. Botte

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71 Scopus citations


The ammonia electro-oxidation reaction (AOR) has been studied due to its promising applications in ammonia electrolysis, wastewater remediation, direct ammonia fuel cells, and sensors. However, it is difficult to compare and analyze the reported electrocatalytic activity of AOR reliably, likely due to the variation in catalyst synthesis, electrode composition, electrode morphology, and testing protocol. In this paper, the electro-oxidation of ammonia on different carbon-supported precious metal nanoparticle catalysts was revisited. The effect of experimental conditions, electrochemical test parameters, electrocatalytic activity, thermodynamics, and possible deactivation mechanism of the catalysts were investigated. Pt/C catalyst possesses the highest electrocatalytic activity, while Ir/C and Rh/C show lower overpotential. The onset potential of the AOR is related to the hydrogen binding energy of the catalyst. Nads is one major cause of deactivation accompanied with the formation of surface O/OHads at high potentials. The coulombic efficiency of Nads formation on Pt is about 1% initially and gradually decreases with reaction time. Increase in ammonia concentration leads to increase in current density, while increase in hydroxyl ions concentration can enhance the current density and reduce the overpotential simultaneously. The slopes of AOR onset potential and hydrogen adsorption/desorption potential of Pt/C as a function of pH follow Nernst equation. In contrast, potentials measured at different current densities exhibit non-Nernstian behavior, suggesting a critical role of the local pH change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
JournalElectrochimica Acta
StatePublished - Feb 20 2017


  • Ammonia electro-oxidation
  • Ammonia electrolysis
  • Ammonia fuel cells
  • Ammonia sensors
  • Pt catalyst


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