Hacking the fertilizer value chain
The Norwegian technology company N2 Applied has developed a technology that enables livestock farmers to efficiently recycle nitrogen on the farm and produce fertilizer with lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient to plant growth. However, the nitrogen content of manure is too low for the balanced fertilization of most crops. Ammonia loss during the storage and application of the manure is also common. The root of the problem is the biological decomposition which releases ammonia, which, in turn, increases the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. N2 Applied has developed a small unit that enables local production of fertilizer from slurry or biogas digestate with air and electricity. The process increases the nitrogen content and reduces the emissions of ammonia, methane and nitrous oxide during storage and application. The N2 unit fixates nitrogen from air by splitting the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the air into atoms forming nitrogen oxides. The nitrogen oxides are then absorbed into liquid organic substrates such as slurry or digestate from biogas, where it combines with free ammonia to form stable ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The technology can be applied to all kinds of organic waste. The N2 unit is easily integrated on the farm into the existing infrastructure for slurry handling before the storage and can operate with local renewable electricity generation with variable production. N2’s technology enables increased food production with less emissions without using more land.