Topics in Catalysis

, Volume 61, Issue 15–17, pp 1684–1693 | Cite as

Insights into the Reaction Mechanism of Catalytic Wet Air Oxidation of Ammonia Over Bimetallic Ru–Cu Catalyst

  • Jile Fu
  • Dewei Xiao
  • Qingqing Yue
  • Lili Geng
  • Paul Oluwaseyi Fasan
  • Nuowei ZhangEmail author
  • Jinbao Zheng
  • Bing H. ChenEmail author
Original Paper


The mechanism for catalytic wet air oxidation (CWAO) of ammonia to N2 over Ru–Cu/C catalyst is extensively studied by altering the initial pH, reaction temperature and atmosphere. It is found that N2 formation can be from the catalytically selective oxidation of ammonia or the disproportionation reaction between NH4+ and NO2. The initial oxidation of ammonia determines the reaction mechanism, the evolution of pH and the distribution of various nitrogen species. Over-oxidation to nitrous acid lowers the pH of the solution due to dissociation of HNO2 to H+ and NO2. With the decrease of pH, the concentration of NH4+ is increased and rapidly reacts with NO2 to form N2. The relatively lower pH also makes some nitrites be oxidized to NO3. Enhancing the reaction of selective oxidation of ammonia to N2 increases the selectivity to N2 while limits the pH decrease and NO3 formation, since NO2 is more dominant to HNO2 at high pH and hardly oxidized to NO3. The reaction temperature is one key factor to determine the reaction mechanism of CWAO of ammonia.

Graphical Abstarct


Catalytic wet air oxidation Bimetallic Ru–Cu/C catalyst Ammonia oxidation to nitrogen Reaction mechanism 



The authors would like to thank the financial supports from the National Key Technology Support Program of China (2014BAC10B01). Prof Dr Gai would like to thank the support from key scientific and technological project of China’s Shanxi Province (MH2014-10). The support by the Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province of China (2015J05031) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (21673187) are also acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, National Engineering Laboratory for Green Chemical Productions of Alcohols-Ethers-EstersXiamen UniversityXiamenPeople’s Republic of China

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