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.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.