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Bruce R Locke
Department Chair, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Florida State University



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Environmentally-Friendly Production of Nitrogen Fertilizers
Audience: Adults
Description: Annually, approximately 810 M barrels of oil (equivalent) are used globally as feed-stock to produce 147 M metric tons of synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizer which is vital for producing the food supply to sustain the world’s population. The production of this fertilizer is not only energy intensive, but also leads to significant environmental pollution and affects the economic viability of farming in many parts of the world. In this work, an FSU patented flowing film plasma reactor is utilized to generate nitrogen fertilizer in an environmentally friendly way using only air, water, and electricity. The environmentally friendly fungicide and bactericide, hydrogen peroxide, is also simultaneously produced. This process can provide these compounds continuously and on-demand as “green” nitrogen fertilizer and as a “green” fungicide/bactericide, enabling farmers to produce fertilizer on-site as needed and reduce the need to use harmful pesticides. Our system can produce locally the required concentrations of nitrate and hydrogen peroxide, thereby removing the need for shipping and storing large quantities of highly concentrated, hazardous, and potentially dangerous chemicals. The basic physics and chemistry of nitrate generation with plasma discharge is well known from naturally occurring lightning in thunderstorms. This work aims to develop a deeper understanding of how this reactive chemistry can be replicated and harnessed. Aspects of both the power supply and reactor configuration are investigated to increase both the energy yield and production rate of the process. The technology is currently under license to Redhill Scientific, LLC, a startup company specializing in commercializing plasma technology from Professor Locke’s laboratory.

Subject Areas: Engineering
Environmental Sciences
Keywords: agriculture - fertilizer production
green chemistry
plasma technology
Duration: 1 hour or less
Fee: Expenses Only

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