air-to-fertilizer mini-plants

On-site air-to-fertilizer mini-plants relegated by sensor-based ICT technology to foster African agriculture

Project Background

This project is being implemented by Mukono ZARDI at its satellite station of Kamenyamiggo, Lwengo District. The project focuses on investigating the amount of emissions that can be saved if on-site Plasma assisted Nitrogen (N2) fixation mini fertilizer plants are adopted in East Africa.

Globally, almost all nitrogen is fixed on an enormous scale with the “Haber-Bosch ammonia synthesis process”. This process sustains 40% of the global population and is considered as the most important discovery of the 20th century. The process produces 130 million tons of Ammonia (NH3) per year but is one of the leading environment polluters. Production of fertilizers through this process consumes approximately 1-2% of the world’s total energy, and emits 300 million tons of CO2 annually. An alarming factor to global warming and yet new opportunities in the renewable energy production/cost and innovative process design concepts have been established recently.

These bear promise and lead to new paradigms of production such as modern plasma technology for Nitrogen fixation. Plasma assisted Nitrogen fixation technology provides a simple and energy efficient process for the preparation of nitrogen compounds that can be absorbed by plants. The project therefore seeks to demonstrate the production of fertilizers in Sub-Saharan Africa using Plasma assisted nitrogen fixation using air as a raw material. Air being free, implies that there is potential to produce low cost fertilizers while at the same time reduce emission of carbon dioxide gas.

Partner institutions include NAFORRI, Eindhoven University of Technology, TU/e), Nelson Mandela University.

Specific Project Goals

  1. To install a small scale Plasma assisted Nitrogen fixation plant in Uganda
  2. To evaluate production costs of Plasma Nitrogen using locally available energy sources (e.g. solar or bio energy).
  3. To examine the chemical stability of nitrogen fertilizers fixed by Plasma.
  4. To examine the Carbon foot print left behind from importation of Nitrogen fertilizers to East Africa through the sea route and distributions by road.
  5. Investigate how much emissions can be saved through fertilizer production through Plasma assisted Nitrogen fixation process.

Key Project Results

  • To provide affordable Nitrogen fertilizers for poor farmers
  • To have a plasma-based fertilizer production technology/process developed.
  • Liquid Fertiliser production from Nitrogen.
  • To have ICT/mobile technology for soil testing using Artificial Intelligence
  • To have a test fertiliser production plant installed at Kamenyamiggo station running on renewable energy.
  • To have sensors and mobile apps coupled to the mini-plant to monitor the fertilizer production and provide information for farmers to achieve better resource
  • To have an app connecting to the Chemical Internet to allow chemical process plant relegation from any location, enable analysis and interaction with multiple experts.
  • To determine the effect of Plasma assisted Nitrogen fertilizers on crops and soil.
  • To build capacity in Plasma-based fertilizer production
  • To determine the sustainability of techno-economic evaluation the fertilizer production by developed technology.
  • To assess the social impact of the developed technology, including the impact to local farmers’ livelihoods (female farmers and youth) as well as public acceptance of this developed technology.
  • To determine the sustainability of techno-economic evaluation the fertilizer production by developed technology.
  • To assess the social impact of the developed technology, including the impact to local farmers’ livelihoods (female farmers and youth) as well as public acceptance of this developed technology.
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