To make urea, fertilizer producers combine ammonia with carbon dioxide (CO2), but when farmers apply that urea to the soil, an equal amount of CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere. No CO2 is permanently stored or sequestered through the production of urea.
This is a statement of the obvious, I'm told, but it's worth stating for three reasons. First, not everyone knows it. Second, there was zero data in the academic literature supporting the fact, until now (see below). And third, next generation ammonia-urea plants with "zero-emissions" are becoming a reality, despite some of these new technologies relying on fossil fuel feedstocks.
SUMMARY STATUS: Planning phase
Grannus has been working to commercialize its polygeneration "Eureaka Process" since 2013, when it was a runner-up for Sustainability at the Cleantech Open. In 2015, the company closed its Series A financing, to fund engineering and feasibility work on its commercial-scale demonstration plant in California. In early 2016, Grannus awarded the engineering design contract but, in late 2016, gave the contracts to other companies, and now appears to be moving quickly to commercialize its modular, regional-scale ammonia plant design.
SUMMARY STATUS: Operational
The Cherokee plant has been producing nitrogen fertilizers since 1961, and was acquired by LSB Industries in 2000. With repeated outages over the years, LSB is focused on improving reliability at the site, which serves agricultural and industrial markets; most recently, in 2Q 2017, the Cherokee site reported a 100% on-stream rate.
SUMMARY STATUS: Construction Phase
Koch is expanding its Enid plant, the "single largest project investment in company history," increasing capacity on both ammonia lines, debottlenecking the existing urea plant, and building a new urea plant. Ground-breaking took place in October 2014; the project is slightly behind schedule, with start-up expected in 2017.
SUMMARY STATUS: Operational
US Nitrogen broke ground in February 2012, when it expected its new plant to start up in March 2014 - since then, the project has been fraught with problems. Permits were revised and reissued repeatedly, and the site has had major issues with compliance. The local community demonstrated tremendous resistance, launching permit appeals and a slew of lawsuits, some still ongoing. Construction and design issues led to major delays and lawsuits. The start-up process began in May 2015 but the ammonia plant didn't start up until June 2016. In August 2016, the site was temporarily shut down and was under federal and state investigation. The company announced that the plant was fully operational in January 2017 but even now it isn't clear the plant is producing much if any product.