Sustainable nitrogen activation Faraday Discussion

27 - 29 March 2023, London, United Kingdom

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Join us in London, or online, in 2023 for this edition of the Faraday Discussion series. For over 100 years and 300 meetings, Faraday Discussions have been the forefront of advancing the chemical sciences, and many of the Discussions have become landmark meetings in their field. The unique format of the Faraday Discussions allows for in-depth discussions and opportunities to establish new collaborations.

This Discussion will focus on the development of more sustainable routes to ammonia production. It is aimed at all researchers working in the area, including established and early-career scientists, post-graduate students and industrial researchers. Oral and poster presentation opportunities are available to all these groups, and I invite you to submit an oral or poster abstract to make your contribution alongside leaders in the field.
On behalf of the organising committee, I look forward to welcoming you to London, or if you are joining us virtually, online.
Justin Hargreaves


Faraday Discussions have a special format where primary research papers written by the speakers are distributed to all participants before the meeting, and most of the meeting is devoted to discussing the papers. All delegates at the meeting, not just speakers, have the opportunity to make comments, ask questions, or present complementary or contradictory measurements and calculations during the discussion sessions. In addition, there is a dedicated poster session where further discussion takes place. The research papers and a record of the discussion are published in the journal Faraday Discussions.

Find out more about the Faraday Discussions in the video available. 


Industrial scale ammonia synthesis, as accomplished by the Haber Bosch Process, was a landmark achievement of the 20th Century. However, as currently practiced, including feedstock generation, the process accounts for 1-2% of global energy demand and contributes significant fossil fuel based CO2 emissions. Accordingly, there is much contemporary interest in the development of more sustainable ammonia synthesis routes which could, for example, be operated on the local scale employing renewable energy. The four themes of this discussion will unite different research communities around a topic of mutual interest and great societal importance and particular emphasis will be placed upon the transfer of learning between the different themes.

Heterogeneous catalytic and chemical looping routes to N2 activation
This session will target fundamental understanding of N2 activation and its enhancement, integrating theory and experiment to understand the reaction mechanism and develop catalytic materials operating by, for example, associative pathways and those which circumvent the limitations of traditional catalysts. Approaches to the design of novel catalytic systems will be explored, including the development of chemical looping reagents and the emerging area of plasma-based catalytic routes for ammonia synthesis.

Electrocatalytic and photocatalytic routes to N2 activation
This session will consider two major challenges in the area of electrocatalytic N2 activation – the elimination of false positives in relation to obtaining reliable and reproducible data and the suppression of the competing hydrogen evolution reaction in relation to the nitrogen reduction reaction. The session will also consider photocatalytic N2 activation, with a focus on performance enhancement via defect engineering, enhanced light harvesting, increased understanding of structure(morphology)-activity relationships and suppression of competing pathways.

Enzymatic N2 activation
This session will relate to enhanced understanding of enzymatic N2 activation, particularly the detail of the mechanistic pathways used in nature and how an understanding of this can inform the identification of new systems and approaches for N2 activation. The session will consider the nature of the rate determining step, the role of protein environment and the interstitial carbon and the nature of electron transfer being topics of discussion. The structure-activity relationship will also be considered, with areas such as the effect of amino acid substitution (with parallels to ligand design as mentioned below for homogeneous systems) being investigated.

Homogeneous N2 activation
This session will cover experimental and computational approaches to homogeneous and biomimetic N2 activation systems. The focus will be on mechanistic studies, pathway development, identification of novel ligands, in terms of both electronic and steric influences extending across a range of systems, the design of novel systems with boosted proton coupled electron transfer, the optimisation of solvent systems and acidity, suppression of competitive hydrogen producing pathways and the design of novel bi- and multi-metallic systems. The interplay and importance of associative and dissociative pathways will be discussed.

Hideo Hosono (Introductory lecture), Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

Hideo Hosono, ForMemRS, is an honorary and institute professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology and a concurrent distinguished fellow and a group lead at National Institute for Materials Science. His major concern is design and exploration of novel electro-active materials such as semiconductors, superconductors and catalysts. He received his Ph.D in applied chemistry from Tokyo Metropolitan University, and became a professor of Tokyo Tech in 1999.  Dr. Hosono proposed a design concept for transparent amorphous oxide semiconductors (TAOSs) with large electron mobility in 1996 and reported c- and a-IGZO (InGaZnOx)-thin film transistors (TFTs) in 2003 -2004.  IGZO-TFTs are now widely used to drive the state of the art displays such as OLED-TVs. In 2008 his group discovered an Iron-based high-Tc superconductor. The paper reporting this discovery was ranked as the most cited paper among all publications in 2008 and chosen as the breakthrough of the year 2008 by the Science Magazine. He is a pioneer of electride materials in which electrons serve as anions and their applications including catalyst for green ammonia synthesis. He has received international awards including the Japan Prize, Von Hippel Prize (MRS), J.C.McGroddy Prize(APS), Jan Raychman Prize(SID), B.T.Matthias Prize and Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate in Physics.

Douglas MacFarlane (Closing remarks lecture), Monash University, Australia

Professor Doug MacFarlane is a Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Monash University’s School of Chemistry. His interests include discovery and application of ionic liquids and other electrolyte materials, most recently for sustainable ammonia production by electrochemical methods. Professor MacFarlane has published more than 800 papers and 30 patents, including a significant suite of patents in electrochemical ammonia generation. In 2021 he cofounded Jupiter Ionics Pty Ltd with co-worker Dr Sasha Simonov to develop and scale up the technology. Professor MacFarlane was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2007. In 2018 he was awarded the Craig Medal – the Academy’s highest honorific for achievement in the field of Chemistry. He was also elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2009. He was also the winner of the 2018 Victoria Prize for Physical Sciences.

Serena de Beer, MPI Mulheim, Germany

Serena DeBeer is a Professor and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University, an honorary faculty member at Ruhr University in Bochum, and the group leader of the PINK Beamline at the Energy Materials In‐Situ Laboratory at Helmholtz Zentrum in Berlin. She received her B.S. in Chemistry at Southwestern University in 1995 and her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2002. From 2002-2009, she was a staff scientist at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, before moving to her faculty position at Cornell. She is the recipient of a European Research Council Synergy Award (2019), the American Chemical Society Inorganic Chemistry Lectureship Award (2016), the Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry Early Career Award (2015), a European Research Council Consolidator Award (2013), a Kavli Fellowship (2012), and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2011). Research in the DeBeer group is focused on the development and application of advanced X-ray spectroscopic tools for understanding key mechanisms in biological, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis.

Marta Hartzell, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States

Marta Hatzell is an Associate Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering and School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to starting at Georgia Tech, she was a Post-Doctoral researcher in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Campaign. Currently her research group focuses on exploring the role photochemistry and electrochemistry may play in achieving sustainable catalysis. She is an active member of the American Chemical Society, the Electrochemical Society, ASEEP, AICHE, and ASME. Dr. Hatzell has authored over 60 scientific publications, and serves as a Topic Editor for ACS Energy Letters. Dr. Hatzell has been awarded the NSF Early CAREER award in 2019, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Chemistry in 2020, the ONR Young Investigator Award in 2020, the ECS Toyota Young Investigator award in 2021, and the Moore Inventor Fellow in 2021. She also currently serves as a Negative Emissions fellow through the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). 

Patrick Holland, Yale, United States

Patrick Holland was trained at Princeton University (A.B. 1993), University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D. 1997 with Robert Bergman and Richard Andersen), and University of Minnesota (postdoc 1997-200 with William Tolman). His independent research at the University of Rochester initially focused on the properties and reactions of three-coordinate complexes of iron and cobalt. Since then, his research group has broadened its studies to iron-N2 chemistry, reactive metal-ligand multiple bonds, iron-sulfur clusters, engineered metalloproteins, redox-active ligands, solar H2 production, and the mechanisms of organometallic transformations at base metal complexes. In 2013, Prof. Holland moved to Yale University, where he is now Whitehead Professor of Chemistry. His research has been recognized with a number of awards, and election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In N2 reduction, his group has established molecular principles through which iron species are able to weaken and break the N-N bond, and has been a leader in iron chemistry relevant to the iron-molybdenum cofactor of nitrogenase.

John Irvine, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom

John Irvine FRSE, FRSC has made a unique and world-leading contribution to the science of energy materials, especially fuel cell and energy conversion technologies. This research has ranged from detailed fundamental to strategic and applied science and has had major impact across academia, industry and government. Irvine’s science is highly interdisciplinary extending from Chemistry and Materials through physics, bioenergy, geoscience, engineering, economics and policy.

The quality and impact of Irvine’s research has been recognised by a number of national and international awards, including the Royal Society Hughes Medal in 2021,  the Royal Society of Edinburgh Lord Kelvin Medal in 2018, the Schönbeim gold medal from the European Fuel Cell Forum in 2016, the RSC Sustainable Energy Award in 2015, with earlier RSC recognition via Materials Chemistry, Bacon and Beilby awards/medals.

Highlights of Irvine’s activities include discovery of the Emergent nanomaterials phenomenon, establishing the field of oxide fuel electrodes, delivering high performance direct carbon fuel cells and demonstration of significant hydride ion conductivity.  Other important achievements relate to photocatalysis, lithium ion batteries, non-stoichiometric oxides, Structure/ Property/Function, catalysis and electrocatalysis and bioenergy.

Jonas Peters, CalTech, United States

Jonas Peters received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry at the University of Chicago in 1993, where he began research under Professor Gregory Hillhouse in inorganic chemistry. Jonas then spent a year as a Marshall Scholar at the University of Nottingham, UK, working with Professor James J. Turner, FRS. In the fall of 1994, Jonas left Nottingham to begin his doctoral studies under the direction of Professor Christopher C. Cummins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After receiving his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 1998, Jonas was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, under the guidance of Professor T. Don Tilley. Jonas began as assistant professor in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech in August of 1999, was promoted to associate professor in 2004, and to Professor of Chemistry in 2006. In July of 2007, he relocated to the MIT Department of Chemistry as the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy. Jonas returned to Caltech in January 2010 as Bren Professor of Chemistry and in 2015, he was appointed director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute.
Jonas has published some 200 primary research articles and is internationally recognized for his work towards the development of catalysts and photocatalysts with applications in renewable solar fuel technologies, distributed nitrogen fixation for fertilizers and fuels, and chemical transformations fundamental to the discovery of new pharmaceuticals. Jonas and his coworkers are recognized for pioneering research relevant to global carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen cycles, with energy storage applications. As director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, Jonas is leveraging Caltech’s unique strengths to innovate solutions for a more sustainable planet.

Lance Seefeldt, Utah State University, United States

Lance Seefeldt is a Professor and Head of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Utah State University.  He received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Redlands in California, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Riverside, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Metalloenzyme Studies at the University of Georgia. His research has focused on elucidating aspects of the mechanism of the metalloenzyme nitrogenase.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is the recipient of the D. Wynn Thorne Career Research Award from Utah State University.  

Deniz Üner, Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Prof. Deniz Üner received her BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering at the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara Turkey. She received her PhD Degree also in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University, USA. She is currently professor of Chemical Engineering at the Middle East Technical University, and chair of the Micro and Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Program. Her research is at the nexus of kinetics, thermodynamics and transport phenomena of heterogeneous catalysis. In addition to her academic duties, she consults local and international chemical industry, and serves on the Editorial boards of Catalysis Communications, Catalysis Reviews Science and Engineering and Applied Catalysis B Environmental.

Abstract Submission

Oral abstracts

Oral abstract submission is now closed.
A full research paper containing new unpublished results always accompanies oral presentations at Faraday Discussions. Submit an oral/paper abstract by 25 July 2022 if you wish to be considered for an oral presentation and associated published paper. The oral/paper abstract should outline current research in progress. Authors of the selected abstracts must then submit a full research paper with a significant amount of new, unpublished work by 7 November 2022

The research papers are reviewed upon submission and are sent to all delegates 4 weeks before the meeting so they can be read in advance. At the meeting the presenting author is allowed five minutes to highlight the main points of their paper, and the rest of the time is for discussion. The discussion is recorded and will be published alongside the research paper in the Faraday Discussion volume.   

Poster abstracts 

Submit your poster abstract by 23 January 2023. Posters are displayed throughout the meeting and a poster session is held on the first evening. The Faraday Division poster prize will be awarded to the best poster presented by a student at the conference.

As this Discussion is being planned as a hybrid event we will be using a dedicated online poster platform to show all posters. Poster presenters who are attending the Discussion in-person will also need to print and display their poster physically. If your poster is accepted for this event, you will receive an email from us with further information for those attending in-person and inviting you log on to the poster platform where you will be able to upload a PDF of your poster.

Additonal information 

Authors will be notified of the outcome of the review process within about 6 weeks of the submission deadline. The abstracts should be no longer than one A4 page in portrait layout. Please ensure you provide the details of the presenting author and indicate whether you are submitting an abstract for oral or poster presentation. 

Planning your trip

We encourage delegates who are planning to attend events in person to arrange suitable travel and accommodation insurance, which should include cover for the postponement or cancellation of travel caused by regulations and guidelines relating to Covid-19. We also recommend considering flexible travel and accommodation booking options where possible.

In-person registration includes:
  • Attendance at all scientific sessions
  • Live interaction with delegates attending virtually
  • Attendance at the poster session and access to the virtual poster gallery
  • Refreshments throughout the meeting and lunch on all three days
  • Attendance at the poster drinks reception on 27 March 2023
  • Attendance at the conference dinner on 28 March 2023
  • Access to all journal paper pdf “pre-prints” before the meeting
  • Access to recordings of all scientific sessions post-event
  • *A copy of the Faraday Discussions journal volume, issued approximately 5 months after the meeting, containing all papers presented at the meeting and accompanying discussion comments.
Please note accommodation is not included in the registration fee.

In-person registration fees are as follows (subject to VAT at the prevailing rate):
Early bird Standard
RSC member* £395 £445
Non-member* £495 £545
Student RSC member £195 £245
Student non-member £245 £295
Accommpanying person £125 £125

Virtual registration includes:
  • ​Attendance at all scientific sessions via the Royal Society of Chemistry’s virtual conference platform
  • Live interaction with delegates attending in-person and other virtual delegates
  • Access to the virtual poster gallery and exhibitor/sponsor virtual rooms
  • Access to all journal paper pdf “pre-prints” before the meeting
  • Access to recordings of all scientific sessions post-event
  • *A copy of the Faraday Discussions journal volume, issued approximately 5 months after the meeting, containing all papers presented at the meeting and accompanying discussion comments.
Virtual registration fees are as follows (subject to VAT at the prevailing rate):
RSC member* £235
Non-member* £295
Student RSC member £115
Student non-member £145

Student delegates 

In order to encourage undergraduate or postgraduate students to attend the Discussion, a reduced conference fee is available for students. This fee applies to those undertaking a full-time course for a recognised degree or a diploma at a university or equivalent institution.

A copy of the Faraday Discussion journal volume containing papers presented at the Discussion (issued approximately 5 months after the meeting) is not included in the student registration fee. Students may purchase a copy of the volume at less than half price. This discounted price is available to delegates when ordering during the registration process, or orders placed at the meeting where an application form will be made available. 

Accompanying person

If you would like to bring a guest to the conference, this can be done during the registration process. There will be an additional charge which will include all lunches, refreshments and the conference dinner. The fee does not include attendance at any scientific sessions, journal paper pre-prints or the journal volume.


The RSC is keen to encourage and enable as many people as possible to attend our events, to benefit from the networking opportunities and the chance to hear talks from leaders in the field. If you would like to discuss accessibility, or have childcare, caring responsibilities or other care needs, please contact us to discuss your requirements so that we can enable your attendance. Please refer also to our Grants for carers fund, for more information please see the ‘bursaries’ section on this page.
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Researcher development grant

If you are an RSC member and a PhD student or postdoctoral researcher based at a higher education or research institution you are eligible to apply for a Researcher development grant.

This grant can provide up to £500 towards activities that will develop your skills and experience as a researcher, which includes participation at conferences, either in-person or virtual.

Applications are processed monthly, with the deadline for each round being the last day of the month, and decisions being sent out by the 21st of the following month. Researcher development grants can be applied for in addition to Grants for carers and Assistance grants.

Grants for carers

Grants for carers have been introduced following the Royal Society of Chemistry Breaking the barriers report where 78% of chemists working in UK academia felt that managing parenting and/or caring responsibilities has an impact on women’s retention and progression. This fund is not limited to women scientists and welcomes applications from anyone with caring responsibilities. These grants have been supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemists’ Community Fund.

You can apply for up to a maximum of £1000/year to assist with additional financial costs that you incur for care usually provided by you whilst you attend a chemistry related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event.

Caring responsibilities are wide and varied, and so each application will be individually assessed, examples of applications that we will consider include:
  • ​paying for extra home help or nursing care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • additional medical/respite care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • travel expenses for a relative to travel with you to care for dependents whilst you attend a meeting or event
  • paying for extended hours with a care worker/childminder/play scheme to cover time when you will arrive home later than normal.
You are eligible to apply if: 
  • you are a chemist
  • you will incur additional caring expenses whilst attending a chemistry-related meeting, conference, event or workshop or a professional development event
  • you will use these funds to cover the cost of care that you usually provide 
  • you are based in the UK or Ireland or if not, you will normally have held three years RSC membership (past or current).
Sponsorship & supporting organisations
A selection of sponsorship opportunities is available for companies who would like to promote their activities at the 2023 Faraday Discussion series.
There are opportunities available to become the Faraday Discussion series sponsor,  Research & Development partner or poster prize series sponsor as well as some individual meeting options. A sponsorship menu document is available to download from this page with more details and prices.
Please note that exhibition spaces are limited, spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
If you would like more information about sponsoring the 2023 Faraday Discussion series, please contact the Commercial Sales Department at the Royal Society of Chemistry on Sponsorship Menu
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