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Climate killer agriculture: men who shoot cow dung with lightning bolts


A Norwegian company uses plasma technology in agriculture. Artificial lightning is supposed to make the manure of farm animals more climate-friendly. Is this a good idea?

Read the video transcript here

Milk and beef have their price - not just in the supermarket, but above all for the climate.

Because in their stalls, cows digest plenty of climate-damaging greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide - and they make manure.

It is returned to the field as fertilizer, where it once again releases substances that are harmful to the climate.

To prevent this from happening, the Norwegian technology company "N2 Applied" fired artificial lightning bolts at the dung.

Chris Puttick, N2 Applied:

“In this machine we create plasma, which is basically lightning.

We create it in this part of the machine and shoot it in the manure.

Here, in the second stage, the

absorption process

takes place.

At this point we include methane and ammonia. "

In a test operation in Great Britain, automatic manure collectors sweep the excrement from the barn floor into a pit.

From there they are pumped into a machine.

Here, a 50-kilowatt plasma torch, together with nitrogen from the air, will transform ordinary manure into something more climate-friendly.

Chris Puttick, N2 Applied:

“We're reducing over 99 percent of methane emissions from manure, so it's practically an elimination.

95 percent less ammonia emissions.

At the same time, we are doubling the nitrogen content of the manure, which can be used as a sustainable fertilizer. "

The end product of the process is the odorless brown liquid »NEO«, an organic fertilizer enriched with nitrogen.

According to the developers, its nitrogen content is twice as high as that of conventional fertilizers, so it would be more effective and sustainable.

Accordingly, NEO should be marketable in agriculture.

But how much will it really help the climate if farmers shoot lightning bolts at cow dung in the future?

Chris Puttick, N2 Applied:

“This technology reduces 199 tonnes of carbon equivalent per year with one machine on a farm with 200 dairy cows.

So we now want to extend it to the entire British livestock sector. "

According to the developers' calculations, their technology could save around one tonne of CO2 equivalent per cow.

This unit of measurement makes the effect of the various greenhouse gases on the climate comparable.

If British farmers were to bombard the manure of every single cow (9.4 million) on the island with lightning, 9.4 million tons of harmful greenhouse gases could be saved.

That would correspond to around 20 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions of British agriculture (2019: 46.3 million T Co2e)

Nevertheless, it would be far more effective if less meat were eaten and milk was drunk.

Because then significantly fewer livestock would be needed.

You could save yourself the flashes then.

The plasma technology in the stable has already convinced several investors.

Most recently, the EU Innovation Council supported the Norwegian company with 15 million euros.

A commercial model of the developed machine is expected to hit the market in June 2022.

According to the developers, companies would have to invest about as much as they would for a medium-sized tractor.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-12-03

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