Fritz Haber (1868-1934)


German chemist, winner of the Nobel Prize of Chemistry in 1918, for the synthesis of ammonia from its elements. Fritz Haber was born in Bresla, in December 9th 1868, and died in Basle, Switzerland, in January 29th, 1934.

Haber studied in Berlin, Heidelberg, Charlottenburg and Karlsruhe. Taught Chemistry in the High Technique School of Karlsruhe until 1911, when he went to Berlin, as professor of Chemical-Physics at the University of Berlin and later as director of the Chemical-Physics Institute Kaiser Wilhelm.

The research work made by Haber (1905-1911) on the equilibrium between nitrogen, hydrogen and ammonia established the exact temperature and pressure, as well as the catalyst, that optimized the ammonia formation. Ammonia produced through this method could be transformed in nitric acid by oxidation, using the Ostwald process. This acid was then used in producing explosives and fertilizers.

Carl Bosh developed the industrial stages for the Haber process. The perfection of the Haber-Bosh process encouraged Germany to enter in World War I. During the war, Haber led the chemical war and headed the first attack with chlorine gas in Ypres (1915). Hitler's regime ordered his exile due to his Jewish origins.

Haber also worked on the thermodynamics of gaseous reactions, the electrochemistry (especially the electrolytic reduction of nitrobenzene), the composition of flames and explosions of gas, etc.