Carl Bosch was a German chemist primarily known for developing an innovative high-pressure process for synthesizing ammonium, making it easier to produce industrially. His process also increased the accessibility of nitrogen compounds used in agriculture and weapons manufacturing. Bosch expanded upon the work of Fritz Haber, who had previously devised a small-scale version of the same process. Bosch's discoveries earned him a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1931.
Carl Bosch lived from 1874 to 1940. He fostered a scientific background in metallurgy and engineering at Technische Hochschule and went on to study chemistry at the University of Leipzig, where he earned a doctorate in 1898. The following year, Bosch was hired to work for chemical company Badische Anilin-und Soda-Fabrik, or BASF, in Ludwigshafen. BASF acquired Haber's research in1908, and Bosch was tasked with improving the scalability of his process.
Bosch had to find an efficient way to speed up the rate of reaction when synthesizing ammonium from nitrogen and hydrogen. One of Bosch's major challenges was finding the most effective catalyst, which involved more than 20,000 experiments with various metals and chemical compounds. While Haber had used uranium and osmium, Bosch's research team used a form of pure iron that was more affordable and plentiful. They also fine-tuned the design of their blast furnaces, allowing them to safely perform high-pressure reactions. Bosch's scientific contributions also enabled the liquefaction of coal, improved the production of explosives and nitrogen fertilizers and paved the way for methanol synthesis.