Nitrogen Unbound: New reaction breaks strong chemical link

10:42am, February 4, 2004

For almost a century, industrial chemists have had to rely on hellishly high temperatures and gas pressures to cleave the tenacious chemical bond that holds together each two-atom nitrogen molecule. That done, chemists can use the nitrogen from the atmosphere to make fertilizers, explosives, and other modern products. Now, researchers have devised a way to split nitrogen molecules under milder conditions within liquids, a step that may inaugurate a variety of energy-efficient techniques for creating nitrogen-bearing substances.

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