Carl Bosch

Carl Bosch
Carl Bosch.jpg
Born(1874-08-27)27 August 1874
Died26 April 1940(1940-04-26) (aged 65)
Heidelberg, Germany
Alma materTechnical University of Berlin
Known forHaber–Bosch process
Scientific career
InstitutionsBASF, IG Farben
Doctoral advisorJohannes Wislicenus[1]
Carl Bosch Signature.png

Carl Bosch (27 August 1874 – 26 April 1940) was a German chemist and engineer and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.[2] He was a pioneer in the field of high-pressure industrial chemistry and founder of IG Farben, at one point the world's largest chemical company.


Early years

Carl Bosch was born in Cologne, Germany to a successful gas and plumbing supplier.[3] His uncle Robert Bosch pioneered the development of the spark plug. Carl, trying to decide between a career in metallurgy or chemistry, studied at the Königlich Technische Hochschule Charlottenburg (now the Technical University of Berlin) and the University of Leipzig from 1892–1898.


Carl Bosch attended the University of Leipzig, and this is where he studied under Johannes Wislicenus,[4] and he obtained his doctorate in 1898 for research in organic chemistry. After he left In 1899 he took an entry level job at BASF, then Germany's largest chemical and dye firm. From 1909 until 1913 he transformed Fritz Haber's tabletop demonstration of a method to fix nitrogen using high pressure chemistry through the Haber–Bosch process to produce synthetic nitrate, a process that has countless industrial applications for making a near-infinite variety of industrial compounds, consumer goods, and commercial products. His primary contribution was to expand the scale of the process, enabling the industrial production of vast quantities of synthetic nitrate. To do this, he had to construct a plant and equipment that would function effectively under high gas pressures and high temperatures. There were many more obstacles as well, such as discovering a practical catalyst, designing large compressors and safe high-pressure furnaces. A means was needed to provide pure hydrogen gas in quantity as the feedstock. Also, cheap and safe means had to be developed to clean and process the product ammonia. The first full-scale Haber-Bosch plant was erected in Oppau, Germany, now part of Ludwigshafen. With the process complete he was able to synthesize large amounts of ammonia, which was available for the industrial and agricultural fields. In fact, this production has increased the agricultural yields throughout the world.[3] This work won him the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1931.

After World War I Bosch extended high-pressure techniques to the production of synthetic fuel and methanol. In 1925 Bosch helped found and was the first head of IG Farben and from 1935 chairman of the board of directors. He received the Siemens-Ring in 1924 for his contributions to applied research and his support of basic research. In 1931 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Friedrich Bergius for the introduction of high pressure chemistry. Today the Haber–Bosch process produces 100 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer every year.[5]

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