Ammonia is a chemical compound with numerous industrial applications (refrigeration gas, water purification, plastics industry, explosives, textiles, dyes, cleaning products, etc.). Alternative processes have been discussed, regarding the production of ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process, such as the production of green ammonia.
In agriculture, it is necessary to use fertilizers to increase crop production. These fertilizers are produced in large quantities to meet the world's needs, from ammonia, mainly produced by the Haber-Bosch process.
A group of young entrepreneurs wants to intervene in an agricultural region with the aim of contributing to more sustainable agriculture. Therefore, they were informed about the work of a group of researchers who have a patent on how to produce green ammonia.
The farmers' community is divided. Some prefer to buy fertilizers produced by the Haber-Bosch process, because they already have suppliers who ensure the supply of this chemical compound. Others are enthusiastic about the idea of practicing a more sustainable agriculture, whose ammonia production is local and from which they can turn it into synthetic fertilizers. Thus, in order to inform the community to be informed and to act with scientific knowledge, the local media mobilized to provide clarification on the situation, organizing a public discussion, mediated by a chemistry teacher.
For this discussion were invited:
|Moderator||The moderator is the chemistry teacher who moderates the discussion, giving the floor to the different elements of the groups in a balanced way and asking questions throughout the presentations.|
The group of chemical engineers develops its activity in the factory that uses the Haber-Bosch process. It is up to this group to:
|Young entrepreneurs|| |
The group of young entrepreneurs knows the innovative process of producing green ammonia, using a pilot project. It is up to this group to:
|Representatives of the municipality||The representatives of the municipality want to modernize the region, meet the decarbonization targets and give autonomy to farmers (less dependence on fertilizer exporting countries). They are therefore based on the process that generates fewer carbon-based compounds, less energy consumption and offers more local employment opportunities.|
Health delegates warn of the risks of exposure to ammonia either directly (skin and inhalation) or through the food chain. It is up to this group to:
|Civil protection representatives|| |
Civil protection representatives are concerned about ammonia storage. Therefore, they warn of the risks that may occur and the care to be taken.
|Local company representatives|| |
Local company representatives intend to turn ammonia into fertilizers. Therefore, they are in favor of the installation of the local ammonia production plant
Advantages of the installation of a pilot project to production of green ammonia and its transformation into synthetic fertilizers:
Advantages of importing nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizers from ammonia produced by the Haber-Bosch process:
Conclusion for solutions 1 and 2:
Regarding the advantages of the two solutions, solution 1 has much more attractive advantages, despite the risk associated with this solution. Comparing the disadvantages of the two processes, if there is an effective clarification of farmers about good practices in ammonia production and in the production and use of fertilizers, it still seems to have fewer disadvantages than solution 2.
This task is suitable for high-school students, and it can be used to explore:
The controversy in this example: To opt for an installation of a pilot green ammonia production project and its transformation into synthetic fertilizers (solution 1) or import synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers from ammonia produced by the Haber-Bosch process (solution 2).
What option to take between the production of fertilizers from a pilot project with very low environmental impact or import fertilizers that present guarantees from the point of view of quality and quantity, but more polluting (greenhouse gas production among others)
Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the two processes, if there is an effective clarification of farmers about good practices in ammonia production and fertilizer production and use, solution 1 brings more benefits to the community and contributes to minimize global warming.
Dealing with SSIs
The goal is to understand how different opinions evolve and reinforce each other.