Skip Navigation Links.

Search for publications:

Limit search to the fields

ECN publication
Reduced nitrogen in ecology and the environment: Special issue of the ESF-FWF Conference in partnership with LFUI, October 2006
Erisman, J.W.; Sutton, M.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Biomass, Coal and Environmental Research 26-8-2008
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-W--08-045 Article (scientific)
Number of pages:

Published in: Environmental Pollution (Elsevier), , 2008, Vol.154, p.357-358.

Nitrogen, contained in amino acids, proteins, and DNA, is essential for life. Much nitrogen is present in nature, almost all is in an unreactive form (gaseous nitrogen, N2) that is not usable by most organisms. The natural supply of reactive nitrogen in the environment through biological nitrogen fixation, biomass burning, volcanic activity and lightning is not sufficient to sustain the current abundance of human life. Thus humans learned in the early 20th century how to convert gaseous N2 into ammonia as a basis for fertilizers that could sustain food production. We industrially create 115 MT of ammonia annually to sustain the relevant amino acids and other reduced nitrogen compounds in food. It is estimated that about 40% of the world’s population depends on this production and use.

Back to List