History of the Haber Process

Monitoring and Management‎ > ‎2. Maximising Production‎ > ‎

Gather and process information from secondary sources to describe the conditions under which Haber developed the industrial synthesis of ammonia and evaluate its significance at that time in world history

  • The Haber process is named after its developer, German chemist Fritz Haber (1868-1934).
  • Haber developed the process at the beginning of the twentieth century, leading up to the First World War.
  • At this time, nations such as Germany imported the nitrates that they required for fertilisers and explosives from South America.
  • Growing world populations were placing strains on this natural source.
  • Furthermore, in Germany, growing militancy was promoting calls for more explosives, creating further demand for natural nitrate resources.
  • In 1908, Haber first developed a catalytic method of synthesising ammonia from its elements.
  • By 1914, German chemical engineer Carl Bosch had assisted Haber in converting the method into an industrial process.
  • During the First World War, British naval blockades prevented most of the South American nitrates from reaching Germany.
  • The Haber process allowed the production of fertilisers and explosives to continue in Germany.
  • The food and munitions that the Haber process allowed to be produced sustained Germany’s war effort and prolonged the war.
Fritz Haber
The apparatus used by Haber to first synthesise ammonia