Nano Research

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 2992–3008 | Cite as

Aqueous electrocatalytic N2 reduction under ambient conditions

  • Na Cao
  • Gengfeng ZhengEmail author
Review Article


Recently, the electrochemical N2 reduction reaction (NRR) in aqueous electrolytes at ambient temperature and pressure has demonstrated its unique advantages and potentials. The reactants are directly derived from gaseous N2 and water, which are naturally abundant, and NH3 production is important for fertilizers and other industrial applications. To improve the conversion yield and selectivity (mainly competing with water reduction), electrocatalysts must be rationally designed to optimize the mass transport, chemisorption, and transduction pathways of protons and electrons. In this review, we summarize recent progress in the electrochemical NRR. Studies of electrocatalyst designs are summarized for different categories, including metal-based catalysts, metal oxide-derived catalysts, and hybrid catalysts. Strategies for enhancing the NRR performance based on the facet orientation, metal oxide interface, crystallinity, and nitrogen vacancies are presented. Additional system designs, such as lithium-nitrogen batteries, and the solvent effect are introduced. Finally, existing challenges and prospects are discussed.


N2 reduction electrocatalyst aqueous electrolyte faradaic efficiency 



We thank the following funding agencies for supporting this work: the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Nos. 2017YFA0206901 and 2017YFA0206900), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21473038 and 21773036), the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (No. 17JC1402000), the Program for Professor of Special Appointment (Eastern Scholar) at Shanghai Institutions of Higher Learning, and the Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy Materials (2011-iChem).


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© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Advanced Materials, Department of Chemistry and Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Catalysis and Innovative Materials, Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy MaterialsFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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