|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
The Haber Process, named after Fritz Haber, a German, is a process for making ammonia,NH3, from hydrogen,H2, and nitrogen,N2,: 3H2 + N2 --> 2NH3. The reaction is done in the gas phase under high pressure and at high temperatures in the presence of a catalyst. The unusual aspects of the reaction is that the extreme conditions are required by the fact that N2 is very unreactive. The process was developed by Haber under "pressure" by the German government during World War I, when the Germans were not able to obtain the raw materials (mined nitrates) from South America that they needed for explosives. The ammonia produced in the Haber process was converted to ammonium nitrate and then used by the German army in the war effort. It is interesting that today, most of the ammonia produced by the Haber process is used to produce fertilizer. The process has been turned from the killing of people to the feeding of people. Jerry Franzen franzenj@thomasmore,edu
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