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
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.
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 worldwide.
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.
Vinton G. Cerf
Robert E. Kahn
Robert W. Gore
Richard M. Hoe
John H. Thomas