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Non-Equilibrium Plasma for Energy-Efficient Nitrogen Fixation

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: ARPA-E
Contract: DE-AR0001482
Agency Tracking Number: 1954-1720
Amount: $256,580.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: T
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001954
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-07-19
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-04-18
Small Business Information
6 Comstock Cir Apt 418B
Stanford, CA 94305-7717
United States
DUNS: 116947660
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Joshua McEnaney
 (607) 242-3338
Business Contact
 Joshua McEnaney
Phone: (607) 242-3338
Research Institution

Nitricity is developing a technology that produces nitrogen fertilizer using inputs of air, water, and renewable electricity. If successful, this technology has the potential to economically decarbonize fertilizer production from the Haber-Bosch process, which is a $68B global market and gigaton CO2eq/yr mitigation opportunity. Our team has developed a plasma-based process that couples with on-farm solar and irrigation to produce nitrate-based fertilizer directly where it is needed. This process first oxidizes nitrogen and then absorbs nitrogen oxides in water as nitrates. We have already installed a solar-fertilizer pilot on a farm in California’s Central Valley, which is successfully supporting tomato and broccoli crops. Our current reactor uses a high-temperature plasma and our present-day efficiencies permit us to sell fertilizer in high-value, irrigable fertilizer markets. However, we have identified a step-change research and development direction for our plasma reactor that would immensely magnify the economic and environmental potential of our approach. In this proposal, we outline a detailed R&D pathway focused on the development of a non-thermal plasma reactor. Literature and modeling analysis suggest that we can achieve an energy efficiency ten times better than our present values, and better than that of the well-known Haber-Bosch process. Ultimately, this technology has the opportunity to reduce US fertilizer and natural gas imports, improve energy efficiency of nitrogen fixation, and reduce emissions on an immense scale.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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