January 26, 2021

Eco-Friendly Fertilizer Coming to a Farm Near you

Ammonia is a major component in the creation of fertilizer and scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) may have found a more ‘green’ method to produce the substance that so many farmers rely on for food production.

Ammonia production uses the century-old Haber-Bosch process which is inefficient in that it uses large amounts of electricity, but Doctor Emma Lovell and her UNSW team have discovered that lightning may be the answer – or rather, its replication in the form of plasma.

They believe that by using a plasma bubble column reactor – which converts nitrogen and electrolyzes the water to produce hydrogen, displacing the oxygen in the water – they can produce more ammonia per gram than the Haber-Bosch method.

Besides not needing fossil fuels, the technology is compact, which eliminates the need for transportation costs and removing any carbon footprints – providing a truly environmentally-friendly way to create agricultural nitrates.

Dr Lovel said: “The technology could be used to produce ammonia directly on site and on demand…which means we negate the need for storage and transport.”

The process is still in its early stages so further optimization is possible.

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