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After graduating from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science at Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo) in 1904, Tamaru traveled to Germany to join Nernst's laboratory, and then moved to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to study under Haber. According to Haber, Tamaru "worked like hell." He tirelessly measured the heat produced by ammonia formation and the specific heat of reactant gas with great accuracy, and made great contributions to the calculation of equilibrium constants under a wide range of pressure and temperature conditions. The results revealed that Nernst, who had accused Haber of miscalculations, was in fact mistaken himself. This was strong proof for the feasibility of ammonia synthesis.
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Haber and Bosch established the first method of ammonia synthesis that directly synthesized airborne hydrogen and nitrogen. This is often called the Haber-Bosch (HB) process. Haber received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his research on ammonia synthesis research, and Bosch received the prize in 1931 for the high pressure reaction process he developed.
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Chemical fertilizers necessary for agricultural mass production contain nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plant growth. A major source of this lifeline is ammonia, a compound produced naturally by bacteria through the synthesis of atmospheric nitrogen. With significant concern at the end of the 19th century in Europe that the world's increasing population might lead to a food crisis, scientists sought to synthesize ammonia for use in fertilizer.
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After the advances made by Haber, it was German chemical company BASF and Carl Bosch who accelerated the industrial synthesis of ammonia. Bosch was in charge of the design and development of the required high pressure reaction system equipment, while Alwin Mittasch, another German chemist, headed the development of the that were key to industrial production. The two conducted more than 10,000 experiments before succeeding in the development of an iron catalyst that was both relatively inexpensive and resistant to high pressure and temperature. This made possible the operation of plants in 1913 with annual ammonia production capacities of 6,500 tons.
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Technology to improve food production has been fundamental in increasing the global population from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.4 billion today. Fertilizers made from ammonia-derived nitrogen compounds in particular have been irreplaceable in boosting agriculture. Contributing to and building on the success of , two German chemists who paved the way for the industrial ammonia synthesis and key studies into catalyst technology, scientists at Tokyo Tech continue to make progress in innovative ammonia synthesis.
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Another major factor determining location has always been a profitable market for the end products. Since the chemical industry is its own biggest customer, it makes good sense to group together companies that use chemical products as intermediates in their own manufacturing process. This has led to clusters of plants (Figure 3) which successively use the output of one process as the input to another. For example, the manufacture of fertilizers, such as ammonium nitrate and carbamide (urea), can be found adjacent to ammonia plants which are themselves close to plants with a ready source of raw materials, either methane or naphtha, used to make ammonia.