Guðbjörg Rist, COO of Atmonia
On on-farm nitrogen fertilizer production, the future for green ammonia and her experiences as a finalist at the Plant Nutrition Startup
Can you tell us about Atmonia?
Atmonia is an early stage agtech company based in Iceland. We are developing a novel electrochemical process for on-farm nitrogen fertilizer production. In the simplest terms, it is a small and simple machine that takes in air, water and electricity to make liquid ammonia-based fertilizer, ready to be applied to the field. Atmonia was founded on the basis of cutting-edge research performed as a collaboration between the University of Iceland and the Innovation Center Iceland. We have our first patent granted and more filed worldwide.
Congratulations on being the people’s choice at IFA’s first ever Plant Nutrition Startup Showcase in Montreal in June! Can you tell us about your experience at the event?
It was great to get the chance to participate and meet so many from the fertilizer industry as well as giving Atmonia visibility within the sector. Truly inspiring to see the diversity of innovation happening within the Plant Nutrition space and the multiple possibilities for collaboration.
What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for “green ammonia”?
Our technology enables us to approach the market for green ammonia in a different manner than any other company because it can operate in small and simple units. As with other green ammonia production, our main challenge is the price and availability of renewable energy. However, the Atmonia system can operate well with intermittent electricity and can therefore optimize the use of renewable electricity as the system can easily be turned on/off and operated in very small units, even linking directly to off-grid renewables. The larger industrial production process needs to operate continuously and therefore demands a continuous energy input.
How do you see Atmonia working with the fertilizer industry?
Atmonia is only producing the nitrogen part of fertilizer, but to secure optimized crop yield there are of course multiple other nutrients that need to be applied. We are very interested in collaborating with producers of the other nutrients to develop a fertilizer-mix with optimized combinations of nutrients for each grower and crop that can be combined with our system.
What other areas of plant nutrition do you think are particularly ripe for innovation?
Precision and “smart” farming is certainly a field where there are significant opportunities, as well as utilizing bio-based material in more sustainable ways. An example of that is recycling minerals such as phosphorus which are a limited resource.