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Le Châtelier's Principle Research Project: The Haber Process
Transcript of Le Châtelier's Principle Research Project: The Haber Process
What is the Haber process?
The Haber process is a reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen gas which is used to produce synthetic ammonia. Ammonia is often used to make ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used in farmlands to help feed the growing population.
Balanced Chemical Equation
N2 (g) + 3H2 (g) = 2NH3 (g)
Temperature, pressure and other conditions
Le Châtelier’s Principle
High heat and pressure is required for the Haber process. According to Le Chatelier's Principle, an increase in pressure will make the system shift in the direction that has fewer moles of gas.
The catalysts used for the Haber process are iron based with potassium oxide, silicon dioxide, calcium oxide and aluminum oxide promoters.
The Haber process was discovered by the German chemist, Fritz Haber in 1908. The process was then commercialized by Carl Bosch in 1913, who manufactured the synthetic ammonia on an industrial scale.
Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch
Before the production of synthetic ammonia, natural nitrates were used to enrich the soil. However, the debut of industrial ammonia shut down these businesses resulting in many jobless people.
Ammonia can be easily converted to nitric acid, an essential ingredient to explosives. Germany's use of these bombs in World War I in 1914 proved to be disastrous and killed countless people. Furthermore, Haber was instrumental in creating the first chemical weapon in history: chlorine and mustard gas. The use of this by the German army also killed many people.
Although the Haber process appears to have been advantageous in the early 20th century, many unprecedented consequences arose.
Before the Haber process was used, intense farming drastically depleted the nitrogen in the soil. With the discovery of the Haber process, ammonia is now used to enrich the soil. It now supports one third of the world's population (approximately 2.4 billion).
The Haber process is both exothermic and endothermic; the forward reaction is endothermic while the reverse reaction is exothermic.
For the Haber process, the system will shift to the right. This is because it has two moles of ammonia as opposed to the left side which has four moles.
The Haber process requires high heat and pressure.
Because of these demanding requirements, the process is highly expensive. When it was first used, there were only a few companies who were capable of using the technique.
Safety, Cost and Other Considerations
"Fritz Haber - Biographical." Nobelprize.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2013. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1918/haber-bio.html>.
May, Paul. "The Haber Process." Bristol University | School of Chemistry. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2013. <http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/~paulmay/haber/haber.htm>.
"The Haber Process." D. W. Brooks Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2013. <http://dwb4.unl.edu/Chem/CHEM869V/CHEM869VLinks/home.inreach.com/rickylaw/dictatorship/general/science/haber/haber.html>.