I am putting together a (fake) proposal for a process that would convert ammonia in cow manure into elemental nitrogen. The first step includes the conversion of that ammonia into ammonium so that it can be used by bacteria in a later step. I know that this specific reaction favors the reactants, so I am looking to find the right combination of methods to push equilibrium towards the products. I used le chatelier's principle and noted an excess of H20 already, but I have a hunch that wouldn't be enough to sway the equilibrium as much as I want. I know that reducing pH would also favor the products. My concern is that there would be a reaction with the desired ammonium and any acid (or their conjugate bases) added to the solution.

Would a common strong acid (HCl, H2SO4, etc) would be appropriate for this scenario, or is there another method of removing OH- from the solution that could work?

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    $\begingroup$ Be careful not to confuse 0 and O in formulas. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Apr 24 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ Well, you might want to be a little more precise with what you mean by "favour the products". Extreme dilution will drive the degree of ionisation to almost 100%, and in that sense "favours the products", except if you actually try to count the ions, there will be almost nothing, (i.e. there are no products). Meanwhile, increasing the concentration of ammonia decreases the degree of ionisation, and in that sense "favours the reactants", but up to a point it will increase the actual amount of ions in solution. This second case is probably what actually matters to you. $\endgroup$ Apr 24 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


It does not have to be a strong acid. Acetic acid, citric acid or any soluble carboxylic acid should do the job, and the byproduct is a naturally occurring organic material.


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