Fertilizer relies on fossil fuels. This company could change that | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: June 22, 2024

Fertilizer has had a major impact in avoiding the oft-trotted out — and Thanos-like — trope that population will outstrip food supplies, a dire prediction that has not come to be. According to Our World In Data, nitrogen-based fertilizer may be supporting up to half of the world’s current population (Infuriatingly, hunger is not an issue of supply, but access.) But that bounty comes at a cost: a deep climate footprint.

Aside from the carbon emissions from producing it, researchers at UC Berkeley found evidence that increased fertilizer use has led to a sharp uptick in nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Fertilizer is a necessity, but the future of food will depend on finding sustainable ways to produce and utilize it. That’s where Norwegian manufacturer Yara comes in to play.

Working with French utility company ENGIE, they plan to use solar power as a greener method to produce fertilizer, with the testing site to be integrated into an existing plant in Western Australia. Ammonia is the key component of fertilizer manufacturing, but producing it requires natural gas.

Yara’s plan is to remove the natural gas, replacing it with ammonia derived from solar power. Using a solar-powered electrolyzer, the plant would split water into oxygen and hydrogen. Then that hydrogen will be combined with nitrogen to create ammonia, thus producing it from a carbon-free source. Considering the massive impact fertilizer has on the environment, we’ll be keeping an eye on Yara’s development.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Could “antivitamins” be the cure to antibiotic resistance?

The first naturally-occurring bacteria killer, penicillin, was discovered nearly a century ago and with it came the advent of a new class of medicines: ...

Read More

Pittsburgh will become a dark sky city in 2022

Anyone who lives in a big city knows that stars are a rare sight due to light pollution, but that may soon change in ...

Read More

5 simple yet profound ways to make the world a better place today

The word activism can bring up images of aggression and vehemence, but it turns out that activism can be practiced in gentle ways, too. ...

Read More

Removable solar panels might soon be rolled out on railway tracks

Solar panels are being laid out "like carpet" across Swiss train rails as part of the country's renewable energy initiative. Swiss startup company Sun-Ways ...

Read More