Decarbonizing Agriculture through the Conversion of Animal Manure to Dietary Protein and Ammonia Fertilizer

The decarbonization of agriculture faces many challenges and has received a level of attention insufficient to abate the worst effects of climate change and ensure a sustainable bioeconomy. Agricultural emissions are caused both by fossil-intensive fertilizer use and land-use change, which in turn are driven in part by increasing demand for dietary protein. To address this challenge, we present a synergistic system in which organic waste-derived biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide) is converted to dietary protein and ammonia fertilizer. This system produces low-carbon fertilizer inputs alongside high-quality protein, addressing the primary drivers of agricultural emissions. If the proposed system were implemented across the United States utilizing readily available organic waste from municipal wastewater, landfills, animal manure, and commercial operations, we estimate 30% of dietary protein intake and 127% of ammonia usage could be displaced while reducing land use, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

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