Nitrogen is one the most inert chemicals after the noble gases, which makes it a great environment for the performance of limited chemical reactions.8,9,14,15 There is no surprise that nitrogen is a great choice because of its high dissociation energy, high ionization energy, and the inability to access its highest vacant molecular orbitals.15 Molecular dinitrogen is a tightly wound nonpolar molecule in character with σ and π electrons.14 The inertness of molecular dinitrogen makes practicable activation a challenge for chemists, but nature can do this process easily.10,14 Nitrogen is not only an important element in the area scientific research, but biological processes also have a much desired need and use for nitrogen.15
Biological systems use nitrogen for their own life support processes and because nitrogen is the controlling factor in protein synthesis. Reduced nitrogen in the biosphere is required in order to perform the needed protein synthesis.8,9,15 The term of nitrogen fixation is no longer solely limited to biological systems and can now be defined more generally as the reduction of molecular dinitrogen to ammonia.15 Nitrogen fixation in organisms began to appear late in evolutionary development because it was thought that the earth had possessed ammonia as a main aspect and component in the atmosphere.1,15 Once the natural occurring supply had diminished and sufficient nitrogen appeared, the systems were required to evolve and adapt in order to continue getting the needed ammonia for survival.1,8,9,15 Reduction of dinitrogen is a key reaction in nature because nitrogen is an important element, but molecular dinitrogen alone is in an inaccessible form for most living organisms to use practically.11 Nitrogen fixation is performed by the enzyme nitrogenase, which catalyzes the conversion of dinitrogen to ammonia by the reaction:
N2 + 8H+ + 8e- + 16MgATP → 2NH3 + H2 + 16MgADP 3,8,11
There are many different forms of nitrogenase all containing at least seven iron atoms along with molybdenum, vanadium, or iron as the eighth atom.10 The chemistry of nitrogen fixation has been subjected to substantial research in hopes to gain a correct understanding of the mechanism details involved in the complicated process of biological nitrogen fixation.8,10
Ammonia is one of the most common and highly produced inorganic chemicals in the world because of its many uses. This chemical has uses in fertilizer, the manufacture of nitric acid, polyamides, dyes, nylon, explosives, and even fuel.16 Ammonia is also a great hydrogen holder for the production of clean energy aside from its many other world applications.8,16 The decomposition of the ammonia allows for the output of hydrogen which is used in solid oxide fuel cells with oxygen in order to yield electrical energy. Ammonia synthesis has therefore become important and the Haber- Bosch process is the most successful commercial method to this day.16 Conversion of...