They are also looking ahead to learn how to economically scale up the process for use on the farm.

"Obviously, we can't use a ‘gazillion’ feet of tubing in a large manure lagoon," Mukhtar said. "Potentially, what we could do is divert some of the flushed manure in a much smaller basin and apply membrane technology to extract ammonia from it."

The manure from which the ammonia has been extracted would then be transported back into the large lagoon, he said

"By doing this repeatedly, we could concentrate ammonia as a relatively high pH solution of ammonium sulfate," Mukhtar said.

The team headed by Mukhtar includes Amir Samani Majd, a doctorate candidate; Dr.MD Borhan, assistant research scientist; and John Beseda, student technician, all based in College Station. The team presented the results of their study in a paper at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers annual international meeting at Louisville in mid-August. The title of the paper was "An Investigation of Ammonia Extraction from Liquid Manure Using a Gas-Permeable Membrane."

"Remember, we are capturing ammonia with this process," Mukhtar said. "Not just scrubbing it as other processes do. We might be able to return part or all of its cost of the process as ammonium sulfate, an expensive fertilizer."