Born December 9 1868 – Died January 29 1934
Production of Ammonia
Patent No. 971,501
At a time when no solution could be found, Fritz Haber successfully
developed an inexpensive method for synthesizing ammonia
needed for the industrial production of fertilizers, serving as an essential
component for exponential global agricultural growth.
During the early 1900s, scientists faced the eventual depletion of the
natural resource Chilean saltpeter (sodium nitrate). Without nitrogen-based
fertilizers to increase crop yields, agricultural output would be severely
reduced. Using the inexhaustible source of nitrogen in the atmosphere, Haber
began investigating the possibility of combining nitrogen from the
atmosphere with hydrogen to form ammonia. By 1908 Haber had succeeded in
developing an ammonia synthesis process that worked in the laboratory.
Using Haber’s breakthrough, Karl Bosch refined the process created in the
laboratory and developed the necessary equipment for producing ammonia on an
industrial scale. The Haber-Bosch process has remained unchanged since the
early 1900s and is used today to manufacture thousands of tons of ammonia
Haber was born in Breslau, Germany. He studied at the University of
Heidelberg, earning his Ph.D. in 1891. Regarded as one of the most
influential chemists of his generation, Haber won the Nobel Prize in
Chemistry in 1918 for his process for synthesizing ammonia.