Catalytic Synthesis of Ammonia—A “Never-Ending Story”?



Nitrogen atoms are essential for the function of biological molecules and thus are and important component of fertilizers and medicaments. Bonds to nitrogen also find nonbiological uses in dyes, explosives, and resins. The synthesis of all these materials requires ammonia as an activated nitrogen building block. This situation is true for natural processes and the chemical industry. Knowledge of the various techniques for the preparation of ammonia is thus of fundamental importance for chemistry. The Haber–Bosch synthesis was the first heterogeneous catalytic system employed in the chemical industry and is still in use today. Understanding the mechanism and the translation of the knowledge into technical perfection has become a fundamental criterion for scientific development in catalysis research.