SP.20.010 – Sustainable fertilizer – Electrification of fertilizer production via plasma technology

Route: Sustainable production of safe and healthy food

Cluster question: 016 How can we develop healthy new food crops that have higher yields while requiring fewer harmful chemicals?

Nitrogen fixation to produce fertilizer is indisputably one of the most crucial steps to provide an ever-growing world population with enough food. Currently, about 40% of the world’s population would have nothing to eat without the availability of fertilizers, requiring annually around 140 million tons of fertilizer that is produced by the well-known Haber-Bosch process (fossil fuel based). The fixation of such enormous amounts of nitrogen contributes strongly to global energy use (about 2 %) and to climate change via its CO2 emission of around 200 million ton each year (about 3.2 % of global greenhouse gases emissions). This proposal focuses on the electrification of nitrogen fixation for the sustainable production of fertilizers. We will explore plasma technology for this purpose. Plasma technology, driven by renewable electricity, could be ‘game changing’ when translated into economically practical applications and implementations in the agricultural sector. Many investigations show the potential of plasma-based technologies, but multiple questions arise on how plasma can be incorporated into scalable and feasible fertilizer solutions and how these can be brought to successful use on the fields and in horticulture. Within this program we will bring leading research, business and innovation partners together, covering the necessary technological disciplines (electrical engineering, plasma physics/chemistry and process technology) and agricultural knowledge (horticulture, vertical farming, crop production, plant physiology, plant production systems, nutrients). Fundamental and applied research results will be integrated in practical use-cases and demonstrations in e.g. horticulture and agriculture. Our program initiative is more relevant than ever and strongly connects to the ‘Sustainable production of safe and healthy food’


agriculture, closed nitrogen cycle, CO2-reduction, energy, fertiliser, high-tech systems, horticulture, nutrition, plasma technology, sustainability

Other organisations

Tuinbouw en Productfysiologie, WUR


Organisation Eindhoven University of Technology, department Electrical Engineering (TU/e)
Name prof.dr.ing. A.J.M. (Guus) Pemen
E-mail a.j.m.pemen@tue.nl
Website https://www.tue.nl/en/research/researchers/guus-pemen/