Urea can be used to make urea nitrate, a high explosive that is used industrially and as part of some improvised explosive de
More than 90% of world industrial production of urea is destined for use as a nitrogen-release fertilizer. Urea has the highest nitrogen content of all solid nitrogenous fertilizers in common use. Therefore, it has the lowest transportation costs per unit of nitrogen nutrient.
Many soil bacteria possess the enzyme urease, which catalyzes conversion of urea to ammonia (NH3) or ammonium ion (NH4+) and bicarbonate ion (HCO3â). Thus urea fertilizers rapidly transform to the ammonium form in soils. Among the soil bacteria known to carry urease, some ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), such as species of Nitrosomonas, can also assimilate the carbon dioxide the reaction releases to make biomass via the Calvin cycle, and harvest energy by oxidizing ammonia (the other product of urease) to nitrite, a process termed nitrification. Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria, especially Nitrobacter, oxidize nitrite to nitrate, which is extremely mobile in soils because of its negative charge and is a major cause of water pollution from agriculture. Ammonium and nitrate are readily absorbed by plants, and are the dominant sources of nitrogen for plant growth. Urea is also used in many multi-component solid fertilizer formulations. Urea is highly soluble in water and is therefore also very suitable for use in fertilizer solutions (in combination with ammonium nitrate: UAN), e.g., in 'foliar feed' fertilizers. For fertilizer use, granules are preferred over prills because of their narrower particle size distribution, which is an advantage for mechanical application.
vices. It is a stabilizer in nitrocellulose explosives.