Carl Bosch – developer of Haber-Bosch process

Carl Bosch – developer of Haber-Bosch process

Carl Bosch

Biography & Contributions

Carl Bosch was a German chemist and Nobel laureate born on August 27, 1874 – died on April 26, 1940. Bosch was notable for developing a new method to synthesize ammonia.

Bosch received the Liebig memorial medal of the association of German chemists,the Bunsen medal of the German Bunsen society, the Golden Grashof memorial medal, the Exner medal from Austrian trade association, the Carl Lueg memorial medal and finally highest international honour, the Nobel Prize.

He transformed Fritz Haber's tabletop demonstration of a method to fix nitrogen using high pressure chemistry into an important industrial process to produce megatons of fertilizer and explosives. The fully developed system is called the Haber-Bosch process. Bosch contribution was to make this process work on a large industrial scale. He had to construct a plant and apparatus that would still function under high gas pressures and high temperatures.

Bosch also invented the Bosch process for preparing hydrogen on a manufacturing scale by passing a mixture of steam and water gas over a suitable catalyst at high temperature.

Haber's catalysts, osmium and uranium had to be replaced by a contact substance which would be both cheaper and more easily available. Bosch and his collaborators found the solution by using pure iron with certain additives. Step by step Bosch went on using increasingly larger manufacturing units and thus created the industry which deals with the production of synthetic ammonia.

He succeeded in working out methods for the industrial production of nitrogen fertilizers, thus providing the fertilizers to every country for agriculture purposes.

Haber - Bosch process

Haber - Bosch process is an artificial nitrogen fixation process and is the main industrial procedure for the production of ammonia. The process converts atmospheric nitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3) by a reaction with hydrogen (H2) using a metal catalyst under high temperatures and pressures.

The most popular catalysts are based on iron promoted with K2O, CaO, SiO2, and Al2O3 which enables the reaction to be carried out at a lower temperature than would otherwise be practicable, while the removal of ammonia from the batch as soon as it is formed ensures that an equilibrium favoring product formation is maintained. The lower the temperature and the higher the pressure used, the greater the proportion of ammonia yielded in the mixture.

For commercial production, the reaction is carried out at pressures ranging from 200 to 400 atmospheres and at temperatures ranging from 400°C to 650°C.

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