Sustainable, Renewable, Locally Generated Fertilizer

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Solar fixation of nitrogen and hydrogen is a means to make local producers independent of price movements in oil commodities.  It allows producers to add nitrogen to their farm systems in a gaseous form in the ppm levels which increases yields as well the overall health of the farm.  

It is a 100% renewable form of nitrogen when produced from solar power and eliminates transport costs. Because it is a foliar gaseous feeding it does not sap the soil like many nitrogen fertilizers. It instead helps build the soil, creating environmental sustainability by promoting growth, regrowth, and increased biomass which can address climate change. The gaseous feeding of plants increases the conversion of carbon dioxide into biomass by increasing plant growth rate overall, and makes lower emissions of NOX and ammonia into the atmosphere

The apparatus is simple and works by exposing a piece of copper metal mesh to the atmosphere, connected to a standard 12v solar panel wired in a short circuit configuration.  This apparatus activates the surface of the copper and creates reducing catalytic conditions.  We have measured an increase in ambient NO2, NO, and NH3.  Germination rates have been measured to increase by 70% in the biomass of microgreens after 2 weeks of exposure and growth was significantly larger.  Root mass is also significantly increased in shoots exposed.  Total farm yield for 2 years in a row was increased by 50% over the historical record, from 15,000 Lbs raw coffeefruit on an organic 4.5 acre farm to 24,000 Lbs, without additional nitrogen inputs for these years.  Flowering is also observed to increase, and the potential to control flowering has also been observed with the release of ambient gasses.

The main problems with the apparatus is usability and acceptance by farmers and farm workers.  Various configurations have been tried and two designs have been successful while others have proven to interfere with farm workers.  A major unknown is whether the product produces any significant toxins and what the range of its nitrogen products are.  These funds would be used to measure gas fluxes on the farm with set installed nitrogen fixation stations in order to develop safety and efficacy data for use on farms.  The only input on our farm for the duration of this study would be local rock dust and fertilization stations.  

Once safety is established, two designs would be developed, fertilization pylons which distribute gas outwards from a central tower, where much of the nitrogen is distributed by the rain, and smaller farm pods which contain a fan to distribute gas continuously outward to small plots of crops.  Both are solar powered. Gases which need to be measured include ammonia, NO, NO2, NOX, SOX, Hydrogen, as well as environmental toxins.



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  • Name:
    Tara Cronin
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Tara Cronin
    Ed Chen
  • Profession:
    Business Owner/Manager
  • Tara is inspired by:
    I believe while design should first and foremost be functional, it should very closely be matched with visual persuasive appeal. Novel ideas are always difficult to embrace for anybody; so design should visually make the functional. accessible and highlight the elegance of the product.
  • Patent status: