Plasma treatment of liquid organic substrate is a new method for reducing ammonia and GHG emissions while simultaneously increasing the nitrogen content of organic waste, such as livestock slurry or digestate.
WHAT GOES IN
A liquid stream of organic waste, like livestock slurry, goes into the unit before storage. It consist of two fractions of nitrogen, organic-N and ammonium-N along with organic carbon and other nutrients. The ammonium-N is unstable and can be lost under storage and application as ammonia (NH3).
WHAT COMES OUT
After plasma treatment the amount of plant available nitrogen in the slurry is doubled and stabilised, preventing losses under storage and application. This means that the plants will get more nitrogen. The treatment has also stopped the methane emissions from the slurry, and almost removed the odour. The organic carbon content and other important crop nutrients (P, K, Mg, Ca, S) are retained in the fertiliser. Even though the pH is lowered, there is no net soil-acidifying effect of enriched slurry or digestate. The organic waste is changed into a Nitrogen Enriched Organic fertiliser (NEO), which can improve the sustainability of food production. You can read more about NEO and the process by downloading our factsheet.
- Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE)
- Higher yield from treated compared to untreated slurry or digestate
- Improved farm carbon footprint
- Less losses of nitrogen from the farm cycle
- Reduced manure smell from storage and application
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE PROCESS
The N2 unit uses electricity and air to increase the fertiliser value of organic waste and stop emissions. The units consist of two steps, plasma and absorption. In the plasma step the nitrogen is fixed from the air using electricity splitting nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2) molecules into N and O atoms, forming nitrogen oxides. In the second step, the nitrogen rich air is absorbed into liquid organic waste, like livestock slurry and biogas digestate. N2 Applied’s proprietary absorption system can be adapted to various types of manure or digestate.
The nitrogen oxides enriches the organic waste with nitrate and nitrites, and stabilizes the ammonium and prevents its loss as ammonia (NH3) in storage and on field application. The organic-N content of the substrate is also retained, meaning it has long-term soil health benefits. The plasma treatment process can also reduce CH4 and N2O losses from storage and on field application.
Nitrogen is and has always been crucial to feed the planet, and you can read more about the History of Nitrogen and fertilisers here.
All N2 plasma units are connected to N2 Cloud, a digital environment where all production data is stored and analyzed. The cloud solution enables remote operation and maintenance of the reactors and forms the basis for value-added services to the farmer. Through the connection it is also possible to get realtime information about the nitrogen content in your NEO, emissions reduced and optimalisation of the NEO to fit the needs on your field.