Chemistry News

The Haber-Bosch process

Nitrogen plays a critical role in the biochemistry of every living thing. It is also the most common gas in our atmosphere. But nitrogen gas doesn’t like reacting with very much, which means that plants and animals can’t extract it from the air. Consequently a major limiting factor in agriculture has been the availability of nitrogen.

In 1910, German chemists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch changed all this when they combined atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia. This in turn can be used as crop fertiliser, eventually filtering up the food chain to us.

Today about 80% of the nitrogen in our bodies comes from the Haber-Bosch process, making this single chemical reaction probably the most important factor in the population explosion of the past 100 years.

46690login-checkThe Haber-Bosch process

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