Thursday, 5 September 2013

Gosh! 100 years of Harber-Bosch! Without N fertilizer we’d have no nosh. (food)

It is exactly 100 years 
since we first became able
 to make Nitrogen Fertilizers 
on a large scale:-

I wonder why there is not more celebration of this fact?

Good article here

It is essential to the nourishment 
of at least 2 billion people
(i.e. the world population could not have increased from 5 billion to 7.1 billion without this)

We can rejoice!!

But look at the other fact:- 
Half of the nitrogen 
contained in the vast quantities of 
synthetic fertilizers now produced 
is not assimilated by the plants 
and is found in rivers
and atmosphere as volatile chemical compounds.[15][16]

and I would add.. in plants on walls and trees that like high concentrations of nitrogen compounds, such as this filamentous green alga Klebsormidium crenulatum
It looks like green velvet. It seems to do well on millstone grit but also on bark and slate.

(Links to other Klebsormidium crenulatum pages on this site)
Klebsormidium crenulatum on millstone grit wall

Klebsormidium crenulatum on slate tombstone
Cows, poultry farms and pig farms, especially intensive ones are a big source of ammonia and nitrous oxide    Nitrous oxide gives 6% of the greenhouse gas in UK.

Levels of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere have increased by an estimated 13% due to industrialisation and it is responsible for about 6% of global warming.

The main sources of nitrous oxide emissions are:
industrial processes

Nitrous oxide pollution from agriculture mainly comes from using inorganic nitrogen fertilisers and from storing manures.

From Wikipedia:- 

In 1913, barely a research team from BASF, led by Carl Bosch, developed the first industrial-scale application of the Haber process, sometimes called the Haber-Bosch process.
In the early twenty-first century, the effectiveness of the Haber process (and its analogues) is such that more than 99 percent of global demand for synthetic ammonia, a demand which exceeds 100 million tons annually, is satisfied thereby. Nitrogen fertilizers and synthetic products, such as urea and ammonium nitrate, are mainstays of industrial agriculture, and are essential to the nourishment of at least two billion people.[11][14]Industrial facilities using the Haber process (and it analogs) have a significant ecology impact. Half of the nitrogen contained in the vast quantities of synthetic fertilizers now produced is not assimilated by the plants and is found in rivers and atmosphere as volatile chemical compounds.[15][16]

...Makes you think....

Article on Harber Bosch

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