Today’s Solutions: November 29, 2021

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

Italian garden installation shows us how much CO2 trees store

Trees are the lungs of our planet—we know that trees are needed because they sequester dangerous CO2 emissions, but do we really know how much we depend on them to clean the air we breathe? ... Read More

Go Cubs: The inspiring story of California’s undefeated deaf football team

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside had never won a division championship football game in its 68-year history, but that all changed this year when the team not only won a championship game ... Read More

New biomarker for Alzheimer’s discovered

Alzheimer’s is a complex neurological disease, with scientists still trying to piece together the complete puzzle of factors that contribute to its development. A number of different genetic and environmental risks have been determined─though more ... Read More

Bread and Roses uses floristry to empower refugee women in London

Rebuilding a life in a foreign country as a refugee is not an easy task. This is especially true for women, who often face more barriers than men as they are less likely to have ... Read More

Study: Schools of fish operate like a superorganism

The world under the waves is still a mystery, with 95 percent of oceans yet to be explored. Scientists are always uncovering many new and exciting aspects of this ecosystem; from the importance of fish ... Read More

New biodegradable glitter lets you sparkle guilt-free

As sparkly and magical as it is, glitter is actually a form of microplastic, and even products that claim to contain biodegradable glitter rarely actually are. This is a difficult issue to tackle because countries ... Read More