The Role of Chemistry in History

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A Fertilizer

April 29th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Introduction | Chemical and Physical Properties | Synthesis of Ammonia: The Haber-Bosch Process | A Fertilizer | Ammonia Affects History | Other Uses

  • The main use of ammonia is in fertilizers. Fertilizers are used as a substance added to soil in order to improve the growth and yield of plants. All plants rely on nutrients in the soil in order to survive, most importantly nitrogen. However, as the plants grow they use up those nutrients in the soil. Thus, something is needed in order to replenish those vital nutrients. Fertilizers replace the chemical components that are taken from the soil by growing plants. The replenishing of nutrients in the soil by fertilizers make the plans grow more efficiently.
  • Modern-day research into fertilizers began in the early 1600s. Scientists began to discover the chemical needs of plants and thus began to improve fertilizers. Organic chemists Justus con Liebig discovered that plants needed mineral elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous in order to grow. Subsequently, the first patent was issued to John Lawes for his method of producing a form of phosphate that was effective as a fertilizer. Lawes’ patent is often said to have originated the fertilizer industry. The fertilizer industry then experienced its most significant growth after World War I when ammonia facilities that were producing explosives for the war were converted to the production of fertilizers.
  • It was this post-war era that saw the growth of fully integrated factories deigned to produce fertilizers. It was quickly realized that ammonia would be a good source for these fertilizers because it could be synthesized from inexpensive raw materials.

Tags: Ammonia