• Carl Bosch was born on August 27, 1874, Cologne, Germany. He studied metallurgy and mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg (1894-96). He studied chemistry at Leipzig University at University of Leipzig, under Johannes Wislicenus and obtained his doctorate in 1898 for research in organic chemistry.
  • He started his professional carrier at the Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik (BASF), Ludwigshafen, Rhine as a chemist in April 1899. He has developed the process for new synthetic indigo under the guidance of Dr. Rudolf Knietsch. Later his research interest was focussed on fixing of nitrogen using metal cyanides and nitrides and during 1907 he has installed a pilot plant for the production of barium cyanide.
  • Carl Bosh’s major research breakthrough was the modification of ammonia process from nitrogen and hydrogen originally invented by Fritz Haber at laboratory scale.  He transformed ammonia process into an efficient and commercially feasible technology using high pressure chemistry and now this is known as Haber–Bosch process. Carl Bosch fabricated   variety of reactors with different types of steel with varying resistances to pressure and heat to develop an efficient process.  The Haber–Bosch process has number of industrial applications for the production of variety of industrial compounds, required for consumer and commercial products.
  • Carl Bosh was awarded Chemistry Nobel Prize in 1931 jointly with Friedrich Bergius in industrial chemistry "in recognition of contributions to the invention and development of chemical high pressure methods". Bosch process is primarily responsible for the green revolution as humans overcame the limits in crop productivity because of the easy access to nitrogen enrichment of soil. Nevertheless it is also responsible to large increase of reactive nitrogen in our environment and pollution resulting from it.
  • Bosch was honoured with honorary doctorate degrees and public awards by several institutes for his basic and applied research achievements.  
    He died after a prolonged illness on April 26, 1940.

           Friedrich Karl Rudolf Bergius

  • Friedrich Bergius was born on October 11, 1884, in Goldschmieden near Breslau, Silesia now in Poland. His family was a respected family with several scientists, theologians, civil servants, army officers, and business men. His grandfather was Professor of Economics in Breslau and his father owned a chemical factory in Goldschmieden. Bergius was educated in Breslau. Even during the school days, he took lot of interest in his father's factory and got acquainted with technical aspects of chemical processes and obtained considerable insight into industrial as well as scientific matters.
  • Before studying chemistry, Bergius was sent to work for 6 months at the Friedrich Wilhelms steel works in Ruhr to obtain knowledge of large metallurgical plant. Latter he has initiated his chemistry education at the University of Breslau in 1903 and obtained his PhD degree at the University of Leipzig in 1907. His doctoral work was on sulfuric acid as solvent under the supervision of Arthur Rudolf Hantzsch. In 1909 Bergius worked for one semester with Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch at the University of Karlsruhe in the project involving development of the Haber-Bosch process. During that time he was invited to work at the University of Hanover with Prof Max Bodenstein, and had developed the concept of chemical kinetics.
  • Bergius developed a method for the production of liquid hydrocarbons from high-volatile bituminous coal for use as synthetic fuel employing hydrogenation process at high temperature and pressure. Fossil fuels comprising of coal, oil and gas contain energy that can be converted into other forms through combustion. Coal in solid form is largely made up of the element carbon in pure form, while oil is rich in compounds of carbon and hydrogen also known hydrocarbons. Bergius process is a method for transforming a solid form of coal into liquefied oil by exposing the coal to hydrogen gas under high pressure to form hydrocarbons, yielding a patent in 1913. This process has been used primarily to produce fuel for vehicles.
  • In order to fund his research Bergius accepted an offer made already previously by Dr. Karl Goldschmidt to transfer his laboratory to the Essen works of the firm Th. Goldschmidt A.G. and  Bergius sold his patent to BASF. Later Bergius devoted himself to a process of obtaining sugar from cellulose in wood, on which he had already worked during the First World War. He succeeded after 15 years' work and an industrial plant was set up.
  • Bergius received the degree of Dr. Phil. from the University of Heidelberg and the honorary doctorate from the University of Hanover. He received Liebig Medal and was elected to the Board of Directors of many associations and companies interested in coal and oil.
  • In 1931 Bergius shared the Nobel Prize with Carl Bosch for their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high-pressure methods. He died in Buenos Aires on March 30, 1949.

Contributed by Dr A Manjula, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad