MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What is haber process all about??

Date: Mon Jan 29 12:05:10 2001
Posted By: Jerry Franzen, Faculty, Chemistry, Thomas More College
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 979889457.Ch

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

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