Friedrich Bergius – Developer of Bergius process

Friedrich Bergius – developer of Bergius process

Friedrich Bergius

Biography & Contributions

Friedrich Bergius was a German chemist and Nobel laureate born on October 11, 1884 – died on March 30, 1949.

Bergius is best known for the Bergius process for producing synthetic fuel from coal, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in recognition of contributions to the invention and development of chemical high-pressure methods.

He formulated his thesis on absolute sulfuric acid as a solvent. In 1909 Bergius worked for one semester with Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch at the University of Karlsruhe in the development of the Haber - Bosch process.

Bergius’s early research involved dissociation of calcium peroxide. He developed a practical laboratory method to do so at pressures up to 300 atmospheres. Bergius also researched the conversion of wood into sugar and of sugar into other food products.

One of the most notable discoveries of the research was the hydrogenating effect of hydrogen on coal and heavy oils under high pressure.

Bergius Process

The Bergius process is a method of production of liquid hydrocarbons for use as synthetic fuel by hydrogenation of high-volatile bituminous coal at high temperature and pressure. The dry product is mixed with heavy oil recycled from the process. A number of catalysts have been developed over the years, including tungsten or molybdenum sulfides, tin or nickel oleate, and others. Alternatively, iron sulphides present in the coal may have sufficient catalytic activity for the process, which was the original Bergius process. The mixture is pumped into a reactor. The reaction occurs at between 400 to 500 °C and 20 to 70 MPa hydrogen pressure. The reaction produces heavy oils, middle oils, gasoline, and gases.

The immediate product from the reactor must be stabilized by passing it over a conventional hydrotreating catalyst. The product stream is high in naphthenes and aromatics, low in paraffin and very low in olefins. The different fractions can be passed to further processing to output synthetic fuel of desirable quality. If passed through a process such as Platforming, most of the naphthenes are converted to aromatics and the recovered hydrogen recycled to the process.

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