Talus Renewables, founded with the mission of bolstering global food security by providing low-cost, carbon-free nitrogen fertilizers, recently launched the first commercial modular green ammonia system in sub-Saharan Africa, drawing on the Schmuecker Renewable Energy System Team’s extensive expertise and support.
The talusOne system is scheduled for deployment in November in partnership with the seven-farm Kenya Nut Company. It was developed utilizing the foundational research of Jay Schmuecker and David Toyne. Schmuecker, the founder of Schmuecker Renewable Energy; and Toyne, lead designer and developer; have been working with Talus Renewables since 2021. Today, Toyne has taken an active role with Talus as a senior engineer and is actively involved in the design, fabrication, and installation of its systems, while Schmuecker provides consulting support.
“As part of my extensive research prior to launching Talus I reached out to many firms to discuss the idea of a green ammonia plant, but none of them had actually built one,” says Hiro Iwanaga, CEO and Co-Founder of Talus Renewables. “But Jay and David delivered, having spent the better part of a decade or more developing the engineering around how to build a small-scale, high-pressure, high-temperature gas system.”
The talusOne system is intended to replace an unreliable and costly supply chain, providing farmers with predictability and savings to reinvest in crops and job creation. The on-site green ammonia system improves reliable access to a critical raw material with a reduced carbon footprint and at a fixed cost.
“Fertilizer is an enormous market, but there are substantial inefficiencies that result in a clear social need,” says Iwanaga. “A farmer in Africa pays double the price for fertilizer as a farmer in the Midwest, simply due to differences in infrastructure.”
“In sub-Saharan Africa, there are about 250 million people who are chronically malnourished and over 50 million people on the brink of famine” he adds. “One of the easiest solutions to tackle that is improving access to basic nitrogen fertilizers, which could at least double the crop yield.”
Ammonia is the world’s second-most produced chemical, 80% of which is used for fertilizer. Its production currently relies heavily on fossil fuels. The price of ammonia also fluctuates with natural gas pricing, which in turn falls back on the farmer in the form of higher fertilizer prices.
Green ammonia production is carbon-free, with hydrogen derived from water via a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind power.
As Schmuecker’s and Toyne’s research showed possible, the Talus system pulls nitrogen from the air, hydrogen from water, and combines it in a high-temperature, high-pressure compressor. The result is low-cost, carbon-free ammonia.
Iwanaga says there are many remote locations where it is more economical to produce green ammonia than purchase fossil fuel-derived ammonia, due to the lack of supply chain interference.
Iwanaga’s interest in green ammonia technology meshes well with Schmuecker and Toyne’s vision of their work. Schmuecker set out to develop and implement renewable farm fuels and fertilizers for two reasons: To help preserve fossil fuels for making fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, and to create a carbon emission-free renewable energy source that would help combat global warming and its effect on climate change.
Iwanaga’s interest lies in tackling food security and climate change, as well as a long-term vision of working with global energy majors over the next five or ten years to focus on ammonia as an energy and fertilizer source.