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Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0032-1400


The discovery three years ago of the first well-defined complex compound containing the nitrogen molecule – a complex of ruthenium – aroused great interest in such compounds and in their relation to nitrogen fixation. Since then a number of other nitrogen complexes have been obtained, but as yet, despite reports to the contrary, attempts to reduce their nitrogen to ammonia have been unsuccessful. In this article the author, who is Director of the Agricultural Research Council ‘s Unit of Nitrogen Fixation, puts into perspective the considerable amount of work now being done in this field, which may eventually point the way to a mechanism by which atmospheric nitrogen may be fixed and then reduced to yield ammonia and, for example, amines for the plastics industry.


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