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Complex Potassium/Nitrogen Fertilizers


Technology Process Development for Production of Standard-Type Complex Potassium/Nitrogen Fertilizers

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry
  • CHE-ANL/Analytical Chemistry/Chemistry
  • CHE-THE/Physical and Theoretical Chemistry/Chemistry

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Tbilisi State University, Georgia, Tbilisi

Supporting institutes

  • Shota Rustaveli State University / Institute of Membrane Technologies of Georgia, Georgia, Batumi


  • OstWestTransfer e.K., Germany, Regis-Breitingen\nUniversity of British Columbia / Department of Chemistry, Canada, BC, Vancouver

Project summary

In the last decades researchers all over the world are focused on searching environmentally clean technologies for feeding soil with new forms of fertilizers containing chemical elements (potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus) and microelements essential for plant vitality. This is a pressing problem requiring prompt solution.

Sorption technologies appear quite attractive for producing potassium-containing compounds from sea water without using chemical reagents. One of the prospective directions is the development of technology for obtaining combined potassium/nitrogen fertilizers. The technology, proposed by this project, is based on latest research in the area of sea water treatment with new, non-reagent, sorption and electroosmotic filtration methods for obtaining potassium and potassium/nitrogen fertilizers. This technology is of topical importance for coastal countries possessing large deposits of natural zeolites but lacking traditional potassium minerals suitable for fertilizer production.

Project goal:

  • Development of the technology for obtaining combined potassium/nitrogen fertilizers of standard type, and a pure potassium nitrate, by the dual-temperature and electroosmotic filtration method for separation and concentration of sea water components on natural zeolite – klinoptilolite;
  • Creation of pilot experimental unit and production of final product samples.

Earlier, in the course of implementing the ISTC G-1302 project (2006-2008), a new non-reagent and environment-friendly technology of potassium extraction and concentration from sea water, and production of soil substrate called ZEOKALI, was developed. Among others, ZEOKALI features good moisture-retention properties, and maintains neutral medium in the soil. Apart from potassium, other substances having cation form (e.g ammonium, and microelements), can also be inserted, in an agrochemically active form, in the structure of natural klinoptilolite (KP) by ion-exchange method.

In the course of implementing the earlier ISTC project, other objective scientific results were also achieved which had enabled us to put forward some useful new ideas. In particular, we used to obtain the product – KP enriched with potassium recovered from sea water, by a dual-temperature method, in two stages, the process included heating up sea water up to 800 C. Within the framework of the proposed project the first-ever attempt will be made to use combined methods of sorption-membrane and electroosmotic filtration for separation of a multi-component system, so that the product can be obtained through only a single stage, without the need for heating sea water. If the final product – KP enriched with potassium – is treated, in ion-exchange columns, with ammonium solutions, a far more valuable product - combined potassium/nitrogen fertilizer, can be obtained. Using crystallization, solid-state potassium nitrate (a standard-type fertilizer) can also be obtained.

The technology of combined potassium/nitrogen fertilizer production matches well with the results of our earlier ISTC project - a process of obtaining zeolites saturated with potassium. Some additional experimental work is required in order to develop a combined scheme for obtaining, simultaneously, potassium fertilizer ZEOKALI, combined potassium/nitrogen fertilizer, and pure potassium nitrate (PN).

The proposed project will use modern physical-chemical and analytical instruments and methods for controlling working modes of operations: conductonometry,– to analyse general content of salts; complexonometry, potentiometry, turbidimetry, mercurometry and gravimetry - for analyzing inpidual components.

To separate and then concentrate required components from sea water, various methods will be tried –electroosmotic filtration, sorption-membrane, and dual-temperature. Out of them the most effective and efficient method will be selected.

The mechanism of regeneration processes, and all other important aspects of the selected technology will be studied in laboratory conditions. Regularities of sorption and membrane processes will be defined on the experimental pilot unit, and mathematical simulation conducted. Results of these research activities will be used for making necessary adjustments in a current cycle of the technological process.

By implementing the project, the following results will presumably be achieved:


A new concept of sea water processing is proposed. The concept is based on previously unknown regularities of cyclic sorption processes, and properties of inorganic ion-exchanging sorbents, which make it possible to compare altogether new electroosmotic filtration and dual-temperature methods for recovery and concentration of substances from sea water. The best method will be selected and further used as part of the proposed technology.


The technology to be developed by the project is expected to raise interest among potential customers because of its economically attractive features such as high effectiveness and low cost (estimated cost of the combined fertilizer will be 50% of the cost of traditional analogs in the market).


The expected commercial results will be the developed technology, and samples of the pending product – potassium/nitrogen fertilizer.

We assume that the new technology will be attractive both in our region and in number of coastal regions having large deposits of natural zeolites but no potassium-containing minerals. The new technology will be offered to local and International commercial and agrarian organizations. Recommendations will be worked out and submitted to the central and local governments in order to facilitate attraction of investors.


The potassium/nitrogen mineral fertilizers developed by us supply the plant roots with additional vitally important nutrient cations. They provide better results in regulating vital biochemical processes taking place in plants and water systems. The use of potassium/nitrogen fertilizers reduces significantly the expenses for pesticides and other chemical means of plant protection, thus causing less pollution to the environment, and stimulates production of natural food products.

The project will be implemented by the scientists and specialists working in the area of physical and analytical chemistry.

High level of competency of the project staff, and the experience gained by them in the previous ISTC G-1302 project, serve as a guarantee that the proposed project will be implemented successfully.

The project will create opportunities for employing former weapon scientists, and create a number of new additional jobs

With Dr. Nina Schulze, the collaborator of the previous ISTC project from Germany, we have well-established and productive relations since 2004. She will continue collaboration in the proposed project and focus on issues such as exchange of information, provision of comments to technical reports, joint discussions of the project’s findings and other results, joint work on certain project tasks, drafting presentations and abstracts, participation in conferences.

To sum up, the project proposal addresses an important problem of supplying Georgia and other countries with inexpensive, environment-friendly potassium/nitrogen fertilizers, a product much-needed in Transcaucasia and other regions with intensive crop-farming. Our fertilizers are equally valuable for rehabilitating land fertility.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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