Kenya Farm to Host First On Site-Hydrogen-to-Fertilizer Plant, Iowa to Follow

Three Col 2

The world’s first commercial modular green ammonia plant is starting up in Kenya and the company behind the technology to make fertilizer plans to deploy the facilities as far afield as Iowa. 

The plant, which was designed and will be run by US-based Talus Renewables, is sited near Naivasha just outside Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Under a 15-year off-take agreement, Talus will supply Kenya Nut Co., which grows a variety of crops.  

It uses electricity, which in Kenya Nut’s case will be supplied from an on-site solar farm, to split water atoms, freeing up hydrogen to be mixed with nitrogen to create the fertilizer. By doing so it removes the need for the fertilizer to be imported from countries like Russia, cutting costs, securing supply and reducing emissions of climate-warming gases. 

“The average bag of fertilizer in sub-Saharan Africa travels 10,000 kilometers,” said Hiro Iwanaga, Talus’ founder, in an interview. With this plant “you can locally produce a critical raw material, carbon free,” he said. 

Ammonia used in fertilizer is mostly made through natural gas.

Funding Rounds

While the plant at Kenya Nut is small, producing 1 ton a day of fertilizer, the company plans to eventually have Talus produce 200 tons per day from larger plants on its sites to supply 95% of its needs, Graeme Rust, Kenya’s Nut’s chief executive officer, said in a response to questions. 

The plants come in two sizes, the one deployed at Kenya Nut and a 10-ton-a-day facility. The larger ones need about 11.5 megawatts of power.

Talus is seeking to set up its plants in a number of locations across Africa such as sugar plantations as well as the US, including in an agreement with Iowa-based Landus Cooperative, which is owned by farmers. It also plans to work with mining companies to make the ammonia used in blasting. 

Iwanaga said the company is currently raising money in a funding round and plans a larger one next year, which will include securing project finance.

“The green ammonia that Talus’s systems produce is both reliable and locally produced, which reduces costs by addressing supply chain insecurity and challenges,” Matt Carstens, Landus’s CEO and president, said in a response to questions. Green ammonia is “an exciting innovation to consider,” he said. 

(Updates with sugar plantations in first paragraph below photograph)

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

By Antony Sguazzin


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