important Nitrogen Fertilizer

Urea is a seemingly simple organic compound. A carbonyl team flanked by 2 amino teams to make an amide, sometimes known as carbamide. That is, the course, the key nitrogen-containing compound in urine, and until Friedrich Wöhler"s discovery in 1828 the he can synthesize it from inorganic starting materials, we held it with an almost alchemist reverence as being organic and also so carrying through it the crucial spark. It was in that minute that chemists got an knowledge that organic compounds, while special since many are made by life things, they room not so different from not natural compounds.

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Nevertheless, urea maintain something the the an essential spark together a vital component of farming food production. Of all the heavy nitrogen fertilizers, urea has the greatest nitrogen content per unit and so the shortest transportation cost per nitrogen nutrient unit. Virtually 200 million tonnes of urea are made annually and also 90 % of the is used in fertilizers. However, in spite of the compound"s simplicity and high nitrogen content, over there is an ongoing require to enhance storage, transport, and application.

Crystallizing Benefits

Christer B. Aakeröy and colleagues, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA, define that urea"s distinct place in the background of chemistry go nothing to balance out two difficulties that face farmers in its usage as an farming fertilizer—it is very soluble in water in the approximately temperature selection of 20–40 °C (about 110–170 g/100 mL in the range) and also in solid type it is an extremely hygroscopic, acquisition up moisture rapidly.

Both of this physical properties make urea as a fertilizer particularly susceptible come mobility and runoff. Farmers for this reason tend to use more than they really must in order come compensate because that losses. This provides the usage of urea sub-optimal in terms of efficiency and also waste. The too much use of nitrogen compound which room not taken up by plants also means that the concentration of nitrogen in the atmosphere is elevated unnecessarily, which can negatively impact air and also water quality, biodiversity, and even human and also animal health. In addition, since urea has a high moisture contents in humid conditions (40–50 % humidity) it i do not care sticky, which also leads to storage and also stability problems.

Solving a sticky Problem

While slow-release fertilizers have actually been developed, they come with their own concerns of additional manufacturing costs and also irregular nutrient release. Aakeröy and also colleagues expect to remedy this situation and find a method around problems associated with this potent nitrogen fertilizer.

The team has used complete interaction maps (FIMs) and data indigenous the Cambridge structural Database (CSD) to explore the landscape of solid creates of urea. Their aim is come navigate the plenty of different crystalline creates that might exist and also to home in on ones that deserve to be synthesized as co-crystals the urea with reduced aqueous solubility and lower hygroscopicity than the parent compound. The team has investigated 60 co-crystal syntheses and also found that 49 of them create co-crystals, among which has a solubility twenty times reduced than urea and another one v some sixty times reduced solubility. This, the team explains, provides both co-crystals, urea:pimelic acid (U2:PA) and also urea:4-nitrophenol (U:4NP) much less susceptible come humidity problems and also endows lock with far better properties in terms of slow-moving release adhering to application in the field.

Substantial Improvements

The researchers indicate that your findings permit solid forms of urea come be readjusted considerably, thereby substantially improving the compound"s physicochemical nature to the advantage of agriculture. The very same approach, co-crystal technologies, could also be used to get over solubility, delivery, and stability problems associated with various other agrochemicals including herbicides, pesticides, and also insecticides, the team suggests. This could have a positive affect on efficiency and also reduce the environmental affect of together products.

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"The next phase will first be to examine whether the co-crystals with improved physical properties deserve to be administered to tree without negative impacting soil chemistry and plant expansion in general and secondly to identify brand-new co-formers the can deliver essential micro-nutrients to tree whilst also providing a handle for "dialing-in" physical properties in a predictable manner," Aakeröy called ChemViews Magazine.