Carbon-free Energy Storage and Conversion Using Ammonia as a Mediator

August 15th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Ammonia, Nanomaterials, Electricity

Lead Organisation:
University of Wollongong

Institute of Metal Research (Shenyang), Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology


Start date:
October 2021

Completion date:
Estimated September 2024

Key contacts:
Chief Investigator Prof Shi Xue Dou –
Chief Investigator Dr Ji Liang –
Chief Investigator Dr Weijie Li –

AUD$573,778 – Australian Research Council

Project total cost:
AUD$802,741 – combined cash and in-kind contribution

Project summary description:
This project aims to develop essential technologies for ammonia-mediated energy storage, hydrogen production, and electricity generation. This project expects to generate new understandings on designing novel multi-atom-cluster catalysts for the critical ammonia synthesis, electrolysis, and oxidation processes using interdisciplinary approaches.

The expected outcomes of this project include multi-functional electrocatalysts, fundamental insights of principles for electrocatalyst design, and prototype technologies. This should provide significant benefits for the harvest of clean energy, the safe utilization of hydrogen, and the development of carbon-free fuels.

This project will also boost a series of new technologies, including the high-efficiency storage of clean energy, safe, and large quantity transport of hydrogen, and emission-free electricity generation using non-carbon fuels. Key objects of this project are listed as the following:

  • To design and fabricate multi-functional electrocatalyst for NRR/AER/AOR that are based on multi-atom-cluster active centres. Multiple noble or non-noble metal atoms will act as the metal centre and the non-metal atoms in the substrates (i.e., g-C3N4, borene, and phosphorene) will be utilized to coordinate with the metal atoms and provide tunability of their electronic structures.
  • To develop facile approaches for the highly controllable fabrication of the multi-atom-cluster active centres on various substrates. Universal methodologies will be developed for preparing material analogues based on in-situ doping, selective ion etching, and low-energy laser direct writing for g-C3N4, borene, and phosphorene substrates, respectively.
  • To evaluate the materials’ performance for NRR/AER/AOR electrocatalysis, to discover the relationship between the chemical/physical characteristics of the multi-atom-cluster active centres and the actual electrochemical performance, and to propose general principles for the rational design of multifunctional electrocatalysts for the ammonia-based energy storage and conversion.
  • To demonstrate high-performance prototype devices for ammonia-based energy storage and conversion (e.g., ammonia electrolysers and/or low temperature ammonia fuel cells) that are based on the electrocatalysts developed in this project.

Related publications and key links:
Wang, X., Zhao, Y., Wang, L., Peng, W., Feng, J., Li, D., Su, B.-J., Juang, J.-Y., Ma, Y., Chen, Y., Hou, F., Zhou, S., Liu, H. K., Dou, S. X., Liu, J., Liang, J., Regulating the Electronic Configuration of Supported Iron Nanoparticles for Electrochemical Catalytic Nitrogen Fixation. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2022, 32, 2111733.

Liqun Wang, Xiao Yan, Wenping Si, Daolan Liu, Xinggang Hou, Dejun Li, Feng Hou, Shi Xue Dou, Ji Liang, Photoelectrochemical nitrogen reduction: A step toward achieving sustainable ammonia synthesis, Chinese Journal of Catalysis, 2022, 43, 1761-1773.

Higher degree studies supported:
Three PhD students at ISEM are supported by this project.
Two Masters by research students at the University of Wollongong are supported by this project.


Reviewed: November 2022