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What is V - LEAF®

A disruptive technology developed by Vitaponix that captures atmospheric NOx pollutants and converts them to plant feed. The technology is prepared into a suspension concentrate solution and it is sprayed on living plant surfaces. The NOx pollution is broken down to nitrate which is absorbed by the plants as feed. This results in reduced air pollution and increased crop yield.

How does V – LEAF ® work?

V-Leaf® is made up of photocatalysts that have been specially processed to enable NOx catalysis under normal daylight instead of the need for high-intensity light i.e. UV. The R-Leaf® particles remain on the surface of sprayed plants and work tirelessly on a daily basis to break down NOx into nitrate which is the most available form of nitrogen for plants. The nitrate is solubilized with dew and rain and taken up by the plant surface resulting in increased biomass and yield.

When the photocatalysts in V-Leaf® are charged with day light, electrons and holes are produced. The negatively charged electrons capture an oxygen from the air and produce superoxide anions. Holes (h+) capture water molecules from the air and produce hydroxyl radicals (.OH). In contact with NOx they react and break NOx down to nitrate, water and carbon dioxide. These components are essential for crop growth. As this happens on the surface of leaves, they are mostly absorbed by the crop resulting in higher growth.

What is photocatalysis and how it works?

Photocatalysis is the activity taking place when an intense light source interacts with the surface of semiconductor materials, so called photocatalysts. The photocatalysts used in V-Leaf® have been processed to harvest energy from sunlight which is free and clean energy in abundance. Photocatalysts have been studied for over 100 years and are well understood, proven, and used currently in many industries as filters, decontaminants, and chemical reactors. In V-Leaf®, simply explained, day light charges the photocatalytic surface and when NOx come in contact they break down to inert material and nitrate. The photocatalyst itself undergo no changes and therefore continues to work for a prolonged period. The photocatalysts utilised are chosen for their suitability and selectivity for NOx, availability for scaling up, low cost, chemical stability, and safety.

What are NOx and where do they come from?

NOx is a term used to refer to nitrogen oxides. The most common NOx related to air pollution are nitrogen oxides (NO) and nitrogen dioxides (NO2). NOx formation occurs when nitrogen and oxygen react with each other during combustion of fuels, oil, gas and organic matter. NOx can cause serious damage to human and animal health particularly through respiratory diseases. NOx is responsible for smog and poor air quality in cities and form ozone when reacting with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of light resulting in damage to ecosystems, animals and plant life.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at high concentration causes inflammation of the airways resulting in respiratory disease, coughing, flu and bronchitis. Asthma sufferers are prone to have most intense attacks. Prolonged exposure can cause irreversible damage to the respiratory system.
Although nitric oxide (NO) is not considered to be hazardous to health at ambient condition, excess NO may cause respiratory ailments, hematologic side effects, metabolic disorders and other health issues. Furthermore, NO is oxidised by ozone in the atmosphere to give NO2. Ozone is formed in the ground-level by VOCs through the burning of fossil fuels and released from vegetation. Air containing ozone in cities mixes with NO forming NO2 (secondary).

How is NOx measured?

The concentration of NO2 is measured in micrograms in each cubic metre of air (μg m-3). To protect our health the UK Governments set two air quality objectives, 1. The hourly objective, which is the concentration of NO2 in the air averaged over an hour. This ensures that the exposure to high concentrations is monitored; 2. The annual objective which is the concentration of NO2 in the air averaged over a year. This is to protect us from long term exposure. The European Union (EU) has set the exposure limits of NO2 to 200 μg m-3 hourly with no more exceedances over a year and the annual limits to 40 μg m-3. NOx can be measured continuously using an instrument called chemiluminesence analyser or cumulatively using NOx diffusion tubes. Who funded the development of V-Leaf®? The development of V-Leaf is funded by the EU commision and Vitaponix. Development of V – Leaf®. Over £400,000 have been invested to date for the development and trials of V-Leaf® to demonstrate its efficacy.

Evidence of V-Leaf® efficacy?

The photocatalytic activity of V-Leaf® under UV and normal light was tested by independent experts in photocatalysis at Manchester Metropolitan University. The approved method measuring photocatalysis was by monitoring the CO2 in a specific reaction and results are shown below. The material was 10 times more effective in photocatalysis, both under UV light and normal light compared to the unprocessed material.

Data generated confirmed the conversion of N2O, NO and NO2 to nitrate for plant use. The amount of nitrate produced is directly related to the ppm NOx concentration.

How to use V -Leaf® in farming?

V-Leaf® is sprayed on any crop by typical spraying equipment. It is a stable suspension concentrate and can be tank-mixed with most agrochemical inputs. Contains 500g of the specially processed photocatalytic material. It is classed as EC fertilizer containing Zn, Mo, and Mn which are very often found in deficiency, particularly in cereals, and are essential elements for yield security.

V-Leaf® is 1lt/ha. The best application timing for cereals is at T1 and T2 when the soil-applied nitrogen is starting to produce NOx and when the foliage is adequate to hold R-Leaf®. The T2 application is essential as the sprayed leaves are shaded by the new ones and therefore become less efficient.
R-Leaf® captures soil-derived NOx and from the air and converts it to nitrate. This process occurs daily on the surface of sprayed plants resulting in a supply of nitrogen to the crop daily. This can allow a reduction in the application of bulk nitrogen used.
V-Leaf® provides further benefits to plants which are not explained here but contribute towards a higher-yielding crop.

Can V -Leaf® be used to obtain carbon credits?

Vitaponixis in the process of registering the application of V-Leaf® as a project for obtaining carbon credits. When this is completed the end user will be able to claim carbon credits for every hectare sprayed. This will provide a monetary value and contribute towards net zero emission targets. Businesses who would like to claim the carbon credits produced, could subsidise the use of R-Leaf® in farming which will make farming more profitable through increased yield and nitrogen use efficiency. The environmental and health benefit of V -Leaf® will be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone!
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