Researchers from Cornell University have found that the estimates of methane emissions from the industrial sector (the fertilizer industry specifically) is much higher than what is reported.
This finding was discovered through the use of a high-precision methane sensor and a Google Street View vehicle, which revealed that the methane emissions from plants grown using ammonia-based fertilizer was approximately 100 times greater than what was reported.
This large gap between the estimations reported from a reliable source and actual measurements is both significant and alarming.
Natural gas, a widely used energy source in our time, is generally perceived to be a cleaner type of fossil fuel. However, methane itself is a component of natural gas, and the accumulation of methane in our atmosphere poses an even greater threat to global warming than carbon dioxide, which is generally thought to be the primary perpetrator.
The fertilizer industry utilizes natural gas as both fuel for production and as one of the ingredients for urea and ammonia-based products. Plants producing ammonia fertilizer are often located near public roads, where emissions carried by wind can be detected.
In this particular study, a mobile sensor was used. Incomplete chemical reactions during the production of fertilizer can result in unintentional loss of excess methane gas into the atmosphere. These types of emissions are termed “fugitive methane emissions” and were measured during the study in areas located near fertilizer production sites.
It was found that on average, 0.34 % of gas used in the production plants is emitted into the atmosphere. Based on this value, it was calculated that total annual methane emissions from the entire industry is approximately 28 gigagrams while the fertilizer industry’s self-reported estimate is only 0.2 gigagrams per year. In addition, the measured amount of methane surpasses the amount the EPA estimates of 8 gigagrams per year. Although 0.34% of methane released into atmosphere may seem like a negligible amount, because it is such a potent greenhouse gas, its negative impact is strong.
The purpose of using ammonia-containing fertilizer is to supply plants with a nitrogen source, as it is required for their growth and survival. xVital contains nitrogen in the form of nitrate ions, which is actually easier for the plants’ roots to absorb than traditional solid, ammonia-based fertilizers.
Furthermore, these ions are produced using a high-tech probe, which runs on electrical energy rather than fossil fuels. xVital has the power to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses subjected into the atmosphere while increasing the rate of plant growth!