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Haber process

Uploaded by msnarayana on Sep 14, 2013

The Haber process, also called the Haber–Bosch process, is the industrial implementation of the reaction of nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. It is the main industrial route to ammonia:

N2 + 3 H2 → 2 NH3 (ΔH = −92.4 kJ·mol−1)
Nitrogen is a critical limiting mineral nutrient in plant growth. Carbon and oxygen are also critical, but are easily obtained by plants from soil and air. Even though air is 78% nitrogen, atmospheric nitrogen is nutritionally unavailable because nitrogen molecules are held together by strong triple bonds. Nitrogen must be 'fixed', i.e. converted into some bioavailable form, through natural or man-made processes. It was not until the early 20th century that Fritz Haber developed the first practical process to convert atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia, which is nutritionally available. Prior to the discovery of the Haber process, ammonia had been difficult to produce on an industrial scale.

Fertilizer generated from ammonia produced by the Haber process is estimated to be responsible for sustaining one-third of the Earth's population.[6] It is estimated that half of the protein within human beings is made of nitrogen that was originally fixed by this process; the remainder was produced by nitrogen fixing bacteria and archaea.


Main article: History of the Haber process
Early in the twentieth century, several chemists tried to make ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen. German chemist Fritz Haber discovered a process that is still used today. Robert Le Rossignol was instrumental in the development of the high-pressure devices used in the Haber process.[8] They demonstrated their process in the summer of 1909 by producing ammonia from air drop by drop, at the rate of about 125 ml (4 US fl oz) per hour. The process was purchased by the German chemical company BASF, which assigned Carl Bosch the task of scaling up Haber's tabletop machine to industrial-level production.[3][9] Haber and Bosch were later awarded Nobel prizes, in 1918 and 1931 respectively, for their work in overcoming the chemical and engineering problems posed by the use of large-scale, continuous-flow, high-pressure technology.

Ammonia was first manufactured using the Haber process on an industrial scale in 1913 in BASF's Oppau plant in Germany, production reaching 20 tonnes/day the following year.[10] During World War I, the synthetic ammonia was utilized for the production of nitric acid, a precursor to munitions. The Allies had access to large amounts of sodium nitrate deposits in Chile (so called "Chile saltpetre") that belonged almost totally to...

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Uploaded by:   msnarayana

Date:   09/14/2013

Category:   Chemistry

Length:   6 pages (1,260 words)

Views:   2304

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