Corn growers, North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota and others are partnering on project to use flare gas in western North Dakota oil fields to produce anhydrous ammonia.
"There are two main challenges in commercializing flare gas into anhydrous fertilizer," says Cole Gustafson, NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics chair and a project leader in the study. "Can flare gas from remote oil wells be economically collected, and can smaller commercial fertilizer production plants be viable?"
UND will assist in the project by designing three alternative-sized fertilizer plants that can be utilized in the economic feasibility analysis.
"North Dakota agriculture will derive several benefits from the project," Gustafson says. "The first is a new low-cost source of nitrogen fertilizer. The existing fertilizer industry is limited to a few international suppliers."
A second benefit will be a more stable local supply of fertilizer. In the past, fertilizer supplies have been highly variable, so producers at times have had a difficult time purchasing sufficient supplies.
The use of flare gas, which is a recycled product, provides farmers with a renewable fertilizer product. Renewable fertilizer is in high demand by consumers who seek food products with a lower carbon footprint.
The livestock industry also wants a greater availability of renewable feeds.
"Lastly, there is the production of renewable fuels," Gustafson says. "The use of a renewable fertilizer in corn production results in biofuels that have a lower carbon footprint. This leads to significant market premiums in the petroleum markets."
Funding for the project comes from the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and North Dakota Corn Growers Association.Source: NDSU Extension Communications