is German Physical Chemist. He was born on December 9, 1868 and died on January
29, 1934. He originally studied organic chemistry, however, he switched into
physical chemistry as his work was focused on industrial application. One of
his greatest work was developing Haber process to produce ammonia. Haber
process is a method of synthesizing ammonia which is compound of nitrogen and
hydrogen under high pressure and temperature. In other words, the Haber process
combine nitrogen of air and hydrogen to produce ammonia. The manufacture of
ammonia allows us to make soluble nitrogen-containing fertilizers, which have
revolutionized agriculture and lead to enormous increases in food production.
The ammonia is used in manifold fields such as in the textile, paper, polymer
and pharmaceutical industries. Even though Haber process brings some advantages
in the industries, ethical implications of his work is criticized.
two types of systems in chemistry, which are open system and closed system. The
open system is a system that series of quantities are able to enter and leave
the system in specific degree. In other words, both energy (heat or work) and
matter are able to be transferred. The closed system is a system that quantities
are not able to enter or leave the system, and the Haber process is a closed
system. This is because ammonia is a gas in the temperature, and therefore the
system should be closed in order to synthesize and collect the ammonia. Since
the closed system brings reversible reaction to equilibrium, when the system is
equilibrium, it is really significant to understand the yield of ammonia. The
reaction will be slow and have a low yield which shows an equilibrium position
favoring the reactants under standard conditions of temperature and pressure. Like this, scientists are able
to predict the yield of ammonia by using Le Chatelier’s Principle, when the
temperature or the pressure is varied. To be specific, as the pressure is
increasing, the equilibrium position will move to the right since there are 2
moles on the right side, and four moles on the left side which shows there are
more molecules on left side. Since this is forward reaction, higher yield of
ammonia will be produced. In addition, as the temperature
is increased, the equilibrium position will move to the left in order to
decrease the temperature (which means the forward reaction is exothermic). Since
it is backward reaction, a lower yield of ammonia will be produced.
The conditions that are
normally used for the Haber process must be filling up requisites. To be
specific, since the Haber process is an exothermic reaction, the temperature
should not be too high or too low, and the pressure should be high. For the
temperature, low temperature refers to give high yield of ammonia. However, the
problem is that the rate of reaction will decreased, which means it will take more
time to reach equilibrium, by lowering the temperature. According to the ‘ScienceAid’,
the temperature is 450ºC in order to reach equilibrium by increasing the rate.
In order to increase the rate, an iron catalyst is used, and it is used in small
pieces to maximize the efficiency. It is really hard to find place that satisfy
all of these conditions, and the possible yield is only about 15% in the world.
Furthermore, higher pressure is also needed. In other words, increasing the
pressure means increasing the number of particles per unit volume. As a result,
the equilibrium will reach as the pressure increases the rate. The possible
value of pressure is about 250 atm.
The Haber process was really
important technological discoveries, and it affects industries a lot. Especially,
the ammonia is often used in food production fertilizers, which have revolutionized
agriculture and led to huge increases in food production. Before this, the
availability of nitrogen was a limiting factor in food production. However,
after the world war one two, uses of ammonia stocks started to varied, and the
ammonia was able to produce synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. As the food
production is increased, the population has been increased. However, the
problem was that too much population led to starvation.
Haber developed Haber process, he made a non-ethical decision. In the time
period of World War One, the German government asked Fritz Haber to develop
chemical weapons. Even though he refused at first time, but later he started to
research and develop the task of making chlorine gas as a weapon. The weapon
that Haber developed was deadly, because the chlorine gas blocks exchange of
oxygen in the blood. His decision of developing chemical weapons is
controversial, because his ethical implication of developing chemical weapons
actually killed a lot of people during the war.
As the Haber process is considered as great technological
discoveries, Fritz Haber wined for the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1918. Even
though he made a great achievement, it was controversial. This is because Fritz
Haber started to develop raw materials for German war effort, and he came up with
an idea which is to release high toxic chlorine gas (chemical weapon) into
enemy trenches. Developing raw materials didn’t really matter, since scientists
in countries who involved in World War One all try to develop weapons. But the
problem is that he tried to develop Haber process regardless of life of people.
The Nobel Prize that he got was controversial, because the Nobel Prize committee
mentioned that “although he had contributed to the creation of chemical
weapons, his development of ammonia synthesis meant that he was a man who given
the ‘greatest benefit to mankind’.” Some people didn’t really agree with
committee, because science is not discrete from the society, and they think
scientific knowledge and application must consider ethical implications which are
related to social and environmental problems.
Overall, I personally think that the development of Haber
process is a great achievement and it is really useful in various industries.
However, I think scientific investigation should not affect social and environmental
issues. Even though Haber process is helpful and Fritz Haber was able to obtain
Nobel Prize, scientists in these days or in the future should abstain this kind
of investigation, because it is considered as ethical implications.