Highly selective and stable electrochemical reduction of nitrate to ammonia using VO2-x/CuF catalyst with oxygen vacancies

Sajid Mahmood, Anum Bilal, Muhammad Ammar, Shahid Khan, Noshin Afshan, Osamah Alduhaish, Noor Hassan, Ghulam Abbas Ashraf, Ali Bahadur, Kam Loon Fow, Shahid Iqbal

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Electrocatalytic reduction poses significant challenges due to slow kinetics, limited selectivity, and instability, hindering its potential for sustainable nitrate (NO3) removal and producing valuable N-containing compounds. This study develops a one-step hydrothermal approach for decorating copper foam (CuF) with VO2 nanobelts. Subsequently, N2 annealing is performed to generate oxygen vacancies (OVs) and yield a VO2-x/CuF sample for its application as an electrocatalyst in reducing NO3 to ammonia (NH3). Several characterization techniques are applied to study the structural and morphological features of the VO2-x/CuF sample, which shows a high crystalline and defective bundle-like structure of nanobelts attributed to the release of oxygen atoms that are beneficial for the electrochemical NO3 reduction processes. The VO2-x/CuF sample demonstrates impressive results, with a NO3 conversion of 78.7 %, an NH4+ yield rate of 1.833 mmol h−1 cm−2, an NH4+ FE of 77.9 %, and a remarkable NH4+ selectivity of 99.7 % at −1.3 V vs RHE. It is worth mentioning that the isotopic labeling findings reveal that the NH4+ originated from NO3 during the electrocatalytic NO3 reduction using a VO2-x/CuF sample. This confinement method effectively creates accessible metallic catalysts with OVs, enabling high-activity, selective and stable NO3 reduction to NH4+ electrocatalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number234644
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2024


  • Electrocatalyst
  • Electrocatalytic NO reduction
  • NH
  • Oxygen vacancies
  • VO/CuF sample

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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