Revolutionary Lightning-Based Fertiliser Technology Promises Greener Future for Farming

Lightening based fertiliser

The Agri-Tech Centres are collaborating with Debye Ltd on a pioneering project that mimics the process of lightning striking water to produce nitrogen in the form of nitrates. This innovative approach aims to provide farmers with a local source of nitrate-based fertiliser, utilising only air, water, and electricity. The project, which is currently being trialled on lettuce crops within CHAP’s vertical farming facility in Stockbridge, seeks to develop a one-kilowatt proof-of-concept prototype. This will allow for the comparison of crop yields and post-harvest qualities between traditional nitrogen fertilisers and those produced by Debye Ltd’s technology, assessing its commercial potential.

If the trials prove successful, Debye plans to initiate small-scale pilot projects on farms within three years, pending funding. This initiative is supported by funding from Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The Agri-Tech Centres support innovative startups from inception through to market, offering funding, access to research facilities, and assistance in overcoming key agricultural challenges such as climate change and environmental sustainability.

The technology, developed by Dr. Burak Karadag, a former space engineer with a background in satellite propulsion, offers a solution to the environmental damage caused by current fertiliser production methods. By harnessing the natural process of lightning, the technology aims to produce fertiliser in a manner that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, offering a sustainable alternative to ammonia-based fertilisers. This could potentially revolutionise the fertiliser industry by providing a local, renewable, and nearly emission-free source of nitrogen, improving soil health and contributing to global food security.

Dr. Harry Langford from CHAP highlighted the critical role of fertilisers in securing food production and the need for innovation and diversification in fertiliser types and production methods. The collaboration with Debye Ltd represents a step towards the adoption of novel technologies that can support a sustainable transition for UK farmers and growers, aligning economic and environmental interests.

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