Farming in twenty-first-century America is all about striking a balance. One of the biggest concerns for farmers is crop yield, or how large a quantity of crop can be extracted from their limited supply of land. However, the crops must also be free from excess levels of bacteria and other harmful substances in order to be legally sold to and consumed by the public. Additionally, untreated fields will generally produce a fair amount of weeds along with the intended crop, meaning there will be increased competition between the two types of plants for water and growing space, thus reducing overall yield for that intended crop.
Just as chemicals like bactericides were developed for killing unwanted bacteria on the crops, herbicides were created for the purpose of eliminating unwanted competitors like weeds. The problem comes from the fact that herbicides, if left unchecked, can go beyond their intended point and damage actual crops in excess levels. Farmers are then unfortunately forced to choose between allowing a certain level of weeds or risking damage to the crops they depend on for their livelihood.
Thanks to bright new innovators like the minds at Ingevity, this balancing act for farmers may soon become a thing of the past. It is all due to activated carbon technology. Ingevity’s new product, Nuchar AG, is activated carbon that is sold to herbicide companies like Valley Agronomics. Herbicide companies will then go about their business in a two-part process. First, the fields will be sprayed with Ingevity’s activated carbon product. Then, when it comes time to apply herbicide to the fields, the activated carbon will act as a sort of sponge, absorbing any excess herbicide in order to prevent it from coating and killing crops it wasn’t intended to.
While Ingevity’s Nuchar AG isn’t the only activated carbon product on the market, it is considered by many herbicide distributors like Valley to be among the best of its kind. “Farming crews spraying formulas that include Nuchar AG experience faster, simpler application and these fields demonstrate up to 85 percent less crop injury,” said Dennis Roth, who works as vice president of Valley’s western region. “Even one look at fields using Nuchar AG shows grass that is fuller and more vibrant than the rest.”
The innovation at Ingevity isn’t limited to the field of crop injury prevention. A significant portion of research at the company has been funneled into the alternative fuels industry – more specifically, how wood-based activated carbon technology like Nuchar AG can be utilized in conjunction with Ingevity’s adsorbed natural gas (ANG) vehicle platform. When fitted to fleets of vehicles, the technology called Nuchar FuelSorb operates similarly to Nuchar AG activated carbons. It allows for a more efficient and affordable renewable natural gas (RNG) fueling process. For vehicles to run on RNG, it is necessary to first construct a compressed natural gas (CNG) station to properly allow for refueling. These stations are generally very costly and time-consuming to build, often requiring as much as a $1 million capital investment. Ingevity’s ANG technology operates at 900 psi, a pressure much lower than CNG exists at. Installing this low-pressure fuelling infrastructure eliminates the need for a CNG station and is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly for clients.
The merits of Ingevity’s fuel technology have been recognized by the government as well. In May, the company received a $256,000 grant as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Alternative Fuels Investment Grant (AFIG) program. The grant program, designed by Pennsylvania to reduce emissions by funding advanced clean fuel technologies, will be used by Ingevity to help with the cost of fitting ANG technology to a fleet of 28 Ford Super Duty F-250 trucks and transit vans. Data from the fleet will then be collected over time to evaluate the beneficial effects on the environment that come as a result. David Newton, who works as vice president of corporate strategy at Ingevity, is especially pleased with the grant. “This award represents an important endorsement of the ANG platform in Pennsylvania as an economically viable, sustainable fueling solution,” he said.