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Food Security White Paper

Securing Our Food Supply… A Key Factor in Achieving National Security

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Jack Oswald, CEO,
415-986-8300
joswald@syngest.com

Fifty percent of all proteins humans consume have their root in synthetic ammonia (NH3). Plants require nitrogen to produce protein and ammonia is the only viable source for large scale nitrogen applications.

Properly fertilized wheat will yield fifty to sixty bushels an acre while alternating fallow cultivation methods will struggle to produce just a little more than half that amount. Protein content is also a concern — hard red spring wheat will have up to 17% protein when fertilized and as little as 9% if not.

Global Ammonia consumption, approximately 130 million tons annually, is made today primarily using natural gas (69%) or coal (29%). [1]

The United States uses about 18.5 million tons of ammonia annually. Ninety percent (90%) of this is used in agriculture. The United States imports over half of its ammonia (7.9 million tons in 2007) with the majority coming from Trinidad (55%), Russia (21%), and Canada (12%). These three largest ammonia import sources are all under different stresses and will all fail within at most a decade [2]

A 2004 IMF study [3] indicates that Trinidad would exhaust its reserves within ten years of several new plants becoming active. The global economic recession should slow domestic industrial consumption but liquid natural gas exports will ensure an ongoing drawdown of reserves. Russian exports are subject to rising geopolitical tensions. TOD contributor Jon Freise has published a report indicating that Canadian natural gas is on a path to negative EROI within the next six years. [4]

The exhaustion of these sources will cut the United States off from 88% of current imports. This alone will amount to a reduction in ammonia supplies in the continental United States of about 36%. Domestic natural gas fueled manufacturers face similar issues.

Kremlin policy makers continue to exhibit an inclination to advance the state's influence in the energy sector. Taxes on oil exports and extraction are still high, and Russia’s state-influenced oil and gas companies are obtaining controlling stakes in previously foreign-led projects. State-owned export facilities have grown at breakneck pace, while private projects have progressed more slowly or have been met with roadblocks by state-owned companies or by various government agencies. [5]

The nation's first green bio-ammonia plant is in the works which will use a patent pending process to make ammonia from corncobs, stalks and leaves. This will make the fertilizer industry independent of the energy markets. [6]


Sources:

[1] Neal Rauhauser, founder, Stranded Wind Initiative, http://strandedwind.org

[2] Transmission and Firming of GW-Scale Wind Energy via Hydrogen and Ammonia by Bill Leighty and John Holbrook reprinted from Wind Engineering Volume 32, No. 1, 2008 Multi-Science Publishing Company

[3] International Monetary Fund, Trinidad and Tobago, Selected Issues, prepared by a staff team consisting of Antônio Furtado, Stephanie Eble, Carlene Francis, Phebby Kufa, and Saqib Rizavi (all WHD), approved by the Western Hemisphere Department October 4, 2004

[4] An Update on the Energy Return on Canadian Natural Gas, Jon Friese, Twin Cities Energy Transition working group, August 2008

[5] Energy Information Administration

[6] Jack Oswald, CEO, Syngest