Chemists shed new light on global energy, food supply challenge

Sustainability Problem: Carbon Footprint, Energy, & Agriculture

  • Nitrogen fixation is an energy-intensive process
  • The Haber-Bösch process currently consumes about two percent of the world’s fossil fuel supply based on a Utah State University Study


A new process which uses nanomaterials to capture light energy.

  • All living things require nitrogen for survival
  • There are only two processes that can break nitrogen’s strong bond to allow conversion to a form humans, animals and plants can consume
    • Natural, bacterial process and the Haber-Bösch process
    • The Haber-Bösch revolutionized fertilizer production and spurred unprecedented growth of the global food supply, however it consumes about two percent of the world’s fossil fuel supply
    • “This new light-driven process could revolutionize agriculture, while reducing the world food supply’s dependence on fossil fuels and relieving Haber-Bösch’s heavy carbon footprint”
    • This light technology allow for a much more energy efficient process
    • This technology is not exclusive to food production, but can help develop clean fuel alternatives for many other applications

Organizational Stakeholders

  • Energy Industry
  • Food industry
  • Clean energy companies


  • Education on the current carbon footprint issue in agriculture and new technology
  • Develop plan to scale new light technology for agriculture
  • Develop transition plan from old to new technology
  • Scale technology to additional applications

Journal Reference:

  1. A. Brown, D. F. Harris, M. B. Wilker, A. Rasmussen, N. Khadka, H. Hamby, S. Keable, G. Dukovic, J. W. Peters, L. C. Seefeldt, P. W. King.Light-driven dinitrogen reduction catalyzed by a CdS:nitrogenase MoFe protein biohybrid.Science, 2016; 352 (6284): 448 DOI:10.1126/science.aaf2091

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