A low-tech, low-cost method to capture point-source ammonia emissions and their potential use as a nitrogen fertiliser

Cowan, Nicholas ORCID:; Ashwood, Daniel; Drewer, Julia; Toteva, Galina ORCID:; Heal, Mathew R. ORCID: 2024 A low-tech, low-cost method to capture point-source ammonia emissions and their potential use as a nitrogen fertiliser. PLoS ONE, 19 (1), e0296679. 14, pp.

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Rising global energy prices have led to increased costs of nitrogen (N) fertilisers for farmers, but N pollution (losses) from agricultural activities can account for over 50% of the nitrogen applied. This study assesses the feasibility of a low-cost and low-tech method of NH3 emission capture from an agricultural point source (chicken manure) using a water column bubbling technique, and its application as a fertiliser to several plant types. Solutions of i) nitric acid (HNO3), ii) calcium nitrate (Ca(NO3)2), iii) a mixture of Ca(NO3)2 and HNO3 and iv) deionised H2O were used to scrub NH3 from air pumped from a storage container containing chicken manure. We conclude that NH3 can be captured from manure using low-tech methods, and that solutions of common fertiliser compounds such as ammonium nitrate and calcium ammonium nitrate can be replicated by binding captured NH3 to solutions of nitrate. Our results suggest that dissolved calcium nitrate is just as effective at scrubbing NH3 from the atmosphere as nitric acid at low concentrations, but could do so at a near neutral pH. For use on common silage grass for livestock feed, all of the captured ammonium solutions significantly increased yields, including the ammonium only solution. However, the aquatic plants (Taxiphyllum Barbieri and Salvinia auriculata) did not respond favourably to a high ratio of NH4+ in solution, and in the case of Salvinia auriculata, the plant was significantly damaged by the ammonium only solution. In conclusion, we highlight that the capture and utilisation of NH3 emissions from point sources is possible using very basic apparatus and that if used correctly, this captured nitrogen can be stored and applied to crops in a variety of forms which could reduce reliance and cost of mineral fertiliser use.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 05 Feb 2024 10:08 +0 (UTC)

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