USA: World’s First Biomass-to-Ammonia Plant

Mini-plant for nitrogen fertilizer from plants

SynGest, Inc. announced that its first plant to manufacture anhydrous ammonia fuel and fertilizer from corn biomass will be located 45 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa. The company confirmed that it has signed an agreement to purchase 75 acres of land in Menlo (population 375) in Guthrie County. The Menlo site offers easy access to road and rail transportation.

The SynGest Menlo plant will use 150,000 tons of locally supplied corn cobs per year to manufacture 50,000 tons of bio-ammonia annually, enough to fertilize 500,000 acres of nearby Iowa farmland under corn.

As the most productive agricultural economy in the world, the United States consumes 18 million tons of ammonia per year. Without this vital commodity, our country’s yield of corn, wheat, rice and other food grains would fall by 50%. “This is worrisome because more than half the ammonia that we use is imported, notably from Trinidad with its dwindling gas resources, and from Russia with its reputation for interrupting critical supplies for political gains,” says Jack Oswald, CEO of SynGest. “The few large ammonia plants in the U.S. are aging fast and no significant domestic expansion is foreseen.”

“Even a 20% shortfall in the foreign ammonia supply chain, whether it’s accidental or deliberate, will cause serious problems in our food industry and related financial markets,” warns Oswald. “Our SynGest biomass-to-ammonia mini-plant business model will help to mitigate this risk. We will empower the farmer and make him impervious to external forces. The SynGest option will let him convert his agricultural waste material into fuel to power the farm and nitrogen fertilizer to replenish the soil.”

The front-end engineering and design program for the SynGest Menlo project is headed by Dr. Ravi Randhava, CTO of SynGest. Ravi is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the mini-plant industry, and is the “go-to” specialist for solving challenging process problems. Ravi is also President of Unitel Technologies and was a co-founder of the Xytel Group, including a joint venture with Bechtel known as Xytel-Bechtel, Inc. (XBI). “It’s gratifying that the ammonia mini-plant concept that we created at XBI during the 80’s and early 90’s is finally being put to good use,” says Dr. Randhava.

Jack Oswald, CEO,
SynGest, Inc.
Tel. 001-415-986-83 00


SynGest, Inc., press release, 2009-03-25.


SynGest, Inc.