How is HySTrAm developing new catalysts for ammonia synthesis?

May 17, 2023

As a partner in the HySTrAm project, Johnson Matthey (JM) is focusing on the development of new catalysts for ammonia synthesis.

Compared to the traditional Haber-Bosh process that uses iron-based catalysts at high temperatures and pressures, within the HySTrAm project JM is looking at catalysts that could operate at lower temperature and pressure: these catalysts are ruthenium-based.

In order to increase the conversion of the process, another objective of HySTaAm is to combine the catalyst with a sorbent material. In this context, it is foreseen that this sorbent material can operate at a maximum temperature of 300°C which has implications on the operating window for the catalyst.

Based on this information, over the last months, JM has carried out a literature survey to identify supports and dopants that could be used to enhance the activity of Ru-based catalyst at low temperature and pressure. As a result, they have synthesised 20 catalysts candidates, and full characterisation is in progress.

In parallel, the reactor that will be used to evaluate the performance of these new catalysts was commissioned. A Commercial Fe-based catalyst was used to achieve this goal and the data collected during this commissioning run will also be used to benchmark the newly developed Ru-based catalysts.

As a next step, the testing of the newly developed catalyst has then started. Over the next months, JM will optimise the composition of the catalyst and operating conditions based on results obtained from test runs. Furthermore, they will also carry out more work to optimise the reduction step. This work will be done in partnership with Eindhoven University of Technology – in charge of developing the sorbent material – since the integration of the two materials within the same reactor will be key to the project.


Ru catalysts prepared incipient impregnation method.


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