Science and Technology

How to manufacture ammonia minus carbon dioxide

Updated on: Jan 02, 2022
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Nano-science researcher tweaks electrochemical synthesis for higher yield

The conventional way of producing ammonia, a multi-use industrial gas, is by the age-old Haber-Bosch process, which calls for high temperature and pressure and emits a load of carbon dioxide.

Researcher Ramendra Sundar Dey of the Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Mohali, has devised an alternative process for ammonia manufacturing — interfacing nano porous gold with tin sulfide.

This ‘electrochemical synthesis of ammonia’, however, yields less, mainly because of the accompanying hydrogen production.

To make ammonia, which is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, the hydrogen should join hands with nitrogen (a reduction reaction) and not binge away on its own. In a typical electrochemical ammonia synthesis, the hydrogen evolution reaction competes with the nitrogen reduction reaction, resulting in low yields of ammonia.

Dey’s process, however, suppresses hydrogen evolution. He cites the high ‘faradic efficiency’ of 49.3 per cent.

“This can be surely worked upon for industrial preparation of ammonia,” says a press release from the Department of Science and Technology.

3D-printing legs

Scientists at IIT-Madras have come up with 3D-printed legs.

“It is a combination of mathematics and engineering,” says an IIT-Madras write-up on the subject.

TM Balaramakrishnan, Sundararajan Natarajan and Sujatha Srinivasan of the TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development at IIT-M’s department of mechanical engineering have used finite element analysis (FEA), a technique used to arrive at the critical parameters of a physical system numerically.

Given that prosthetic feet have generally been designed through trial and error, making the process expensive, labour-intensive and time-consuming, an alternative numerical design approach was thought to be better.

Therefore, an a priori model (arising out of theoretical deduction) has been developed to evaluate the critical biomechanical parameters of a prosthetic foot. Such an avenue can aid in the optimal design of a prosthetic foot through the variation of its stiffness characteristics, whilst being very efficient. Moreover, previous numerical efforts did not take into consideration the non-linear material and contact behaviour that are essential characteristics of prosthetic feet.

The use of FEA in the design of prosthetic feet is a first. It takes into account the geometric, material, and contact non-linearity of a prosthetic foot. Four biomechanical parameters of a prosthetic foot (centre of pressure trajectory, ankle range of motion, ankle flexion moment and rollover shape) were studied.

Despite the extensive characterisation of a prosthesis user’s walking, the primary impediment in the development of an effective prosthetic foot has been the absence of a numerical approach for a priori estimation of the biomechanical parameters. This study has filled the gap.

Published on January 02, 2022

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