Frontiers of Optoelectronics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 92–96 | Cite as

Non-thermal plasma fixing of nitrogen into nitrate: solution for renewable electricity storage?

  • Yi He
  • Zhengwu Chen
  • Zha Li
  • Guangda Niu
  • Jiang Tang


The rapid deployment of solar and wind technology produces significant amount of low-quality electricity that calls for a better storage or usage instead of being discarded by the grid. Instead of electrochemical CO2 reduction and/or NH3 production, here we propose that non-thermal plasma oxidation of N2 into nitrate or other valuable nitrogen containing compounds deserve more research attention because it uses free air as the reactant and avoids the solubility difficulty, and also because its energy consumption is merely 0.2 MJ/mol, even lower than the industrially very successful Haber–Bosch process (0.48 MJ/mol) for NH3 production. We advocate that researchers from the plasma community and chemistry community should work together to build energy efficient non-thermal plasma setup, identify robust, active and low-cost catalyst, and understand the catalyzing mechanism in a plasma environment.We are confident that free production of nitrate with zero CO2 emission will come true in the near future.


energy storage nitrogen fixation non-thermal plasma 


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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61725401) and the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2016YFA0204000). We also thank Junye Zhang from School of Optical and Electronic Information, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and Sai Tu from College of Chemistry and Molecular Science, Wuhan University for helpful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yi He
    • 1
  • Zhengwu Chen
    • 1
  • Zha Li
    • 1
  • Guangda Niu
    • 1
  • Jiang Tang
    • 1
  1. 1.Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics (WNLO)Huazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina

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