U of M research could develop on-farm fertilizer production


U of M research could develop on-farm fertilizer production

The University of Michigan has received a grant which could help farmers be more in control of fertilizer production while significantly reducing emissions.

Chemical engineer Johannes Schwank will lead the project and tells Brownfield stakeholders including from the agricultural community will be involved throughout the process to get feedback on the technology.

“So that they essentially become their own producers of fertilizer rather than buying it,” he says.

Fertilizer production is responsible for two percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions and Schwank says their system could shorten distribution channels and eliminate emissions.

“It could be a very small footprint facility that services just one farm or one farm cooperative, or it could be a larger facility,” he explains.

Instead of using hydrogen from natural gas, researchers hope to utilize it from water, and when pressurized with nitrogen from the air by solar power they can then create ammonia.

Schwank says after the four-year project is completed to refine the production process, they hope to involve industrial partners who could make a transportable system that could work in a farm-coop setting or on large farms.

He says the system would also have applications in developing nations where commercial fertilizer isn’t easily accessible.

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