Green fertilizers

Last changed: 03 May 2013

Much of the agricultural demand for fossil energy is due to produktion of mineral fertilizers. Currently mineral fertilizeras are produced from fossil gas, coal and oil through the Haber-Bosch methode. The department has been involved in projects focused on replacing this fossil fertilizers by fertilizers produced from renewable sources since 2007:

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Green fertilisers - sustainable production of mineral nitrogen from renewable sources (2007-2009)

The highest energy consumption in Swedish agriculture is associated with the production of nitrogen fertilisers. At present, nitrogen fertilisers are mainly produced from natural gas and coal in the Haber-Bosch process. This project is examining the possibility of producing nitrogen fertilisers from renewable resources, for example via gasification of biomass.

Utilising gasified straw or designated energy crops for nitrogen production could help Swedish agriculture to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The project was run in cooperation with JTI. Serina Ahlgren participated from SLU.


Ammonium nitrate fertiliser production based on biomass – Environmental effects from a life cycle perspective

Green nutrients - mineral nitrogen based on renewable resources (2009-2011)

The production of mineral nitrogen fertilisers is the largest energy consumer in Swedish agriculture and is almost entirely based on natural gas, which is a fossil and finite resource. The possibility to manufacture mineral nitrogen fertilisers from renewable resources opens up new perspectives for sustainable and energy efficient crop production. Hydrogen can be produced from gasification of biomass but also via electrolysis of water powered by electricity from renewable sources. The hydrogen can together with nitrogen from common air be synthesised to ammonia, and then further processed to fertiliser products such as calcium nitrate.

The project started in 2009 and finished in 2011.

The aim of the project was to investigate the consequences and the possibilities for the agricultural sector when nitrogen is produced from renewable resources and self-produced raw materials. The work will be focused on possibilities for energy efficiency improvements, reduction of green house gases, land use, possible costs and time perspectives

The project is financed by the The Swedish Farmers' Foundation for Agricultural Research.

Participating from the Department is Serina Ahlgren.

Sustainable nitrogen fertilizers based on renewable resources (2012-2013)

The production of mineral nitrogen is at present based on fossil fuels, giving large emissions of greenhouse gases. The production of nitrogen is often a big post in the carbon footprint of food and biofuels. However, mineral nitrogen can be based on renewable energy. In this project, an academic collaboration between The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Lund University and University of Minnesota commenced.

The project started in 2012 and finished in 2013.

The aim of this project was to exchange knowledge, bringing synergy effects for all partners, but also to conduct a life cycle assessment of green nitrogen which would be published in a scientific journal. This was an application within the bilateral cooperation agreement between Sweden and the USA.

The project was financed by the Swedish Energy Agency.

Participating from the Department was Serina Ahlgren.

External partners were Lund University and University of Minnesota.

Pilot study for production of nitrogen fertilisers based on renewable energy (2013-2014)

Production of nitrogen fertilizers is one of the largest fossil energy inputs in Swedish agriculture. However, nitrogen fertiliser can be produced based on renewable resources, paving the way for a more sustainable food production and bioenergy. Using renewable energy for nitrogen fertilizer production is an opportunity to utilize renewable resources in a climate-and cost-effective way, while at the same time releasing nitrogen fertiliser prices from the fossil fuel energy market.

The project started in 2013 and finishes in 2014.

The aim of this study is to approach a practical implementation of nitrogen production based on renewable energy. The project will culminate in a report in which the conditions for starting a plant are investigated. The report can then serve as a basis for finding investments to an implementation phase. Issues to be studied include best choice of technology, energy and material yield, appropriate location, investment and operating costs.

The project is financed by the The Swedish Farmers' Foundation for Agricultural Research.

Participating from the Department is Serina Ahlgren.

External partners are LTH.