Iowa State University

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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, manager,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

08-12-04

Contacts:

Mark Hanna, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems
Engineering, (515) 294-0468

Eddie Boylston, Office of Intellectual Property and Technology
Transfer, (515) 294-3621

Dennis Smith, Engineering Communications and Marketing,
(515) 294-0267

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778

ISU ag engineer's award-winning design advances fertilizer application technology

AMES, Iowa -- A fertilizer application system designed at Iowa State University has been named a top new technology of 2004 by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE).

Called the Impellicone, the system has the potential to reduce the amount of ammonia typically used on crops. It received an ASAE AE50 Award, which honors the year's best products in agriculture, food and biological systems industries. The AE50 Awards program focuses on innovative achievements that improve the environment and people's lives.

The technology was designed by Mark Hanna, ISU extension agricultural engineer, and Paul Boyd, a former graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering. The Impellicone is licensed to CDS-John Blue Company, a manufacturer of agricultural equipment in Huntsville, Ala. that collaborated in its development and nominated it for the award.

Others involved in the development of Impellicone were Tom Colvin, professor and USDA collaborator, National Soil Tilth Laboratory; James Baker, University Professor emeritus of agricultural and biosystems engineering; and undergraduate student Kyle Baumgartner.

The Impellicone is a self-powered manifold or flow-divider system that uniformly mixes and distributes the liquid and gas phases of anhydrous ammonia to multiple outlets across an applicator. The equipment gets its name from the impeller-shaped cone that mixes and distributes the anhydrous ammonia.

"The product is unique because it operates over a wide range of applications, maintaining more uniform distribution levels without different adjustments," Hanna said.

The Impellicone can be used for normal rates, or its unused outlets can be plugged to maximize application efficiency at other rates or applicator configurations.

Because Impellicone's accuracy allows for better application control, the technology significantly reduces the temptation to over-apply anhydrous ammonia, Hanna said. Precise use of ammonia on crops means less nitrogen leaching, more accurate yields and an overall reduction in application costs for farmers, he said.

Research and development for the product began six years ago with significant support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. "We surveyed products in the market with the idea of coming up with a design that was both cost-effective and met our specifications," he said.

The goal was to improve the performance, ease of use and manufacturing costs of similar products in the marketplace. Hanna and Boyd developed a "proof-of-concept" prototype that successfully addressed many of these concerns.

Iowa State University's Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (OIPTT) and the ISU Research Foundation (ISURF) helped Hanna identify an industry partner. The Iowa State research team then worked with CDS-John Blue engineers on testing and preparing the product for commercial use. OIPTT and ISURF also facilitated the technology transfer process of licensing, confidentiality agreements and overall development costs.

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impellicone

The Impellicone

Quick look

A fertilizer application system designed at Iowa State has been named a top new technology of 2004 by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.