Haber-Bosch Process

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Chemical processes are essential to sustain human, plant and animal life. They produce, refine and separate substances making them useful for industrial and practical purposes. Chemical processes also occur in human beings and without these processes, nothing would be able to live or grow. One such chemical process is the method of producing synthetic ammonia (NH3) through the Haber-Bosch process.

The Haber-Bosch process is an extremely important method in present society as it allows nitrogen to be converted into other compounds, many of them useful in everyday life. One of the primary uses for ammonia is for the production of fertilizers. As nitrogen is a vital element in all proteins, it is necessary for plant growth. By incorporating ammonia compounds into fertilizers, through the Haber-Bosch process, plants are able to directly absorb these essential nutrients. Other examples of useful compounds include cleaning agents, refrigeration liquids, pharmaceuticals and even explosives.

Ammonia is a nitrogen compound, and nitrogen is abundant in the air. However, nitrogen is very stable due to its diatomic molecules thus it is difficult to combine nitrogen with other elements. In 1908, a process was created by German chemist, Fritz Haber, which established a way of combining nitrogen (N2) from the air with hydrogen (H2) to produce ammonia. This procedure is known as the Haber process.

Although Fritz Haber’s method was successful in producing ammonia, it was not adequate enough to produce ammonia on an industrial level. In 1910, Carl Bosch established a more effective method of producing industrial level quantities of nitrogen compounds. Alternative catalysts to the original Haber process were needed, as osmium and uranium were expensive and weren’t readily available. These were replaced with an iron oxide catalyst. Bosch also designed the equipment needed to withstand high temperatures, pressures and reaction processes. His further development on Haber’s...
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