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Nitrogen fixation for crops

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Nitrogen fixation for crops

ICL Innovation seeks novel materials, biological and technological innovations relating to nitrogen fixation for use as a nutrient in crops.

We are interested in

  1. Modified natural mineral or synthetic organo-metallic complexes for the photo-fixation of nitrogen from air at ambient temperature and pressure
  2. A biomimetic system for the fixation of nitrogen from air in ambient temperature and pressure that can be added to crops either through the roots or through foliar application
  3. Biological solutions such as foliage dwelling bacteria, or endophytes, with enhanced nitrogen fixation and delivery capabilities

Background

The biological enzyme nitrogenase is nature’s way of catalyzing nitrogen fixation from the air. Nitrogen is unavailable as such for plants and therefore requires a symbiotic process. In legumes, as an example, this is achieved through symbiosis with a bacteria called Rhizobium that synthesizes the nitrogenase enzyme. Nitrogen is then reduced to Ammonia and used for a host of growth and life sustaining processes, notably photosynthesis. When approaching the subject of mimicking this natural process two routes come to mind: photo-fixation on the leaf and a chemical process in the rhizosphere- the area surrounding the roots. As our objective is to address the nitrogen needs of the plant, production rate is small, and needn’t compete with such industrial processes as Haber-Bosch in efficiency and volume. It is only required to provide the plant’s needs, or part thereof. By doing this, ICL Innovation hopes to address a pressing environmental concern, namely the nitrification of N-fertilizers in the soil and their run-off to fresh water streams. We encourage a fresh thinking process that focuses on the plants environment and the ways to enrich it with this most needed of nutrients: Nitrogen.

Our criteria

  1. N2 production rate of 10-9 – 10-8 mole*sec-1*cm-2 electrode surface of ammonia or a substantial part of the plant's N need
  2. Required concentration in a fertigation system should be 20-200ppm in irrigation systems with flow rates of 2-8m3/Hour/Hectar
  3. Cost- total usage cost should be lower than using urea
  4. Compliance with current and anticipated regulations
  5. Ease of manufacturing

Information on ICL's current product line for slow release and controlled release fertilizers can be found in the ICL Specialty Fertilizersweb page. As a technology incubator, ICL Innovation is looking only for innovative technologies that may be further developed and commercialized through a business unit in ICL.

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