2023 Song One step formation of urea from CO2 and N2 using water microdroplets

Water (H2O) microdroplets are sprayed onto a graphite mesh covered with a CuBi2O4 coating using a 1:1 mixture of N2 and CO2 as the nebulizing gas. The resulting microdroplets contain urea [CO(NH2)2] as detected by both mass spectrometry and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance. This gas−liquid−solid heterogeneous catalytic system synthesizes urea in one step on the 0.1 ms time scale. The conversion rate reaches 2.7 mmol g−1 h-1 at 25 °C and 12.3 mmol g-1 h-1 at 65 °C, with no external voltage applied. Water microdroplets serve as the hydrogen source and the electron transfer medium for N2 and CO2 in contact with CuBi2O4. Water−gas and water−solid contact electrification are speculated to drive the reaction process. This strategy couples N2 fixation and CO2 utilization in an ecofriendly process to produce urea, converting a greenhouse gas into a value-added product.

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