Artificial lightning combats farm pollution

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Tests in the UK have shown that artificial lightning can strip pollutants from animal manure. The technology entails firing a bolt of plasma at slurry to break up toxic ammonia and climate-heating methane. The artificial lightning is plasma – a stream of matter heated so hot that electrons are ripped away from the atoms and molecules break down. The action smashes ammonia molecules to produce pure nitrogen, which is absorbed into farm slurry. That saves the farmer money because nitrogen applied to fields in slurry is an essential fertiliser. A plasma gun has been firing at cow dung on the dairy Holly Green Farm, in a picturesque part of Buckinghamshire. BBC Image caption, Nick Humphries from N2 with the plasma equipment Independent assessors at the consultancy ADAS told BBC News that it reduces ammonia in slurry by 90%. The plasma process also reduces the emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – by 99%. If the technology proves affordable it wouldn’t just tackle climate change and improve the smell of the countryside, it would also present an opportunity to tackle air pollution in urban areas. Air pollution That’s because clouds of farmyard ammonia often drift towards cities when […]

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