The Fertilizer Problem is an Energy Problem
Fertilizer is essential for modern agriculture, but it is also one of the most concentrated industries in the world and a major contributor to carbon emissions. That’s why Nico Pinkowski and his team at Nitricity have created a reactor that makes nitrogen fertilizer without fossil fuels. He said the key to sustainable fertilizer is renewable energy.
Pinkowski… “No matter what fertilizer feed stock you make, you need to sever the triple bond of nitrogen. And to do that, you need energy and it must come from somewhere. So electricity is an energy company. We turn kilowatts of electricity purchased into pounds of nitrogen out. And our process instead of reacting nitrogen with hydrogen, we react nitrogen with oxygen. There is an old textbook that refers to this process as the burning of air. So we don't separate air. We don't produce hydrogen. We simply oxidize nitrogen present in the air. And the toughest part is that initial step where we have to break down the strong bond and how we do it is with the same fundamental approach is lightning. You know, the natural approach of lightning breaks down nitrogen in the air and brings it to the soil as fertilizer, approximately in order of five pounds of N per acre per year across, uh, farming communities.”
Through this process Nitricity generates nitric acid rather than the ammonia product that is generated through the Haber-Bosch process.