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Enriching the Earth : Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production - Vaclav Smil

Enriching the Earth

Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production

Paperback Published: 27th February 2004
ISBN: 9780262693134
Number Of Pages: 358
For Ages: 18+ years old

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The industrial synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen has been of greater fundamental importance to the modern world than the invention of the airplane, nuclear energy, space flight, or television. The expansion of the world's population from 1.6 billion people in 1900 to today's six billion would not have been possible without the synthesis of ammonia.In Enriching the Earth, Vaclav Smil begins with a discussion of nitrogen's unique status in the biosphere, its role in crop production, and traditional means of supplying the nutrient. He then looks at various attempts to expand natural nitrogen flows through mineral and synthetic fertilizers. The core of the book is a detailed narrative of the discovery of ammonia synthesis by Fritz Haber -- a discovery scientists had sought for over one hundred years -- and its commercialization by Carl Bosch and the chemical company BASF. Smil also examines the emergence of the large-scale nitrogen fertilizer industry and analyzes the extent of global dependence on the Haber-Bosch process and its biospheric consequences. Finally, it looks at the role of nitrogen in civilization and, in a sad coda, describes the lives of Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch after the discovery of ammonia synthesis.

Industry Reviews

"This is a wonderful book, highly readable and replete with referenced data." - John Emsley, Nature; "Broad and imaginative, meticulously argued and fully documented, yet lively and readable, this surprising book...opens a door wide to a dimly lit corner of high-tech, to offer us a new understanding of a major change." - Philip and Phylis Morrison, American Scientist; "A very welcome contribution to the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies." - Juan Ilerbaig, The Quarterly Review of Biology"

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Transforming the Worldp. xiii
Nitrogen in Agriculture: Discovering the Basicsp. 1
Discovering Nitrogenp. 2
Nitrogen in Crop Productionp. 5
Nitrogen and Legumesp. 13
Completing the Nitrogen Cyclep. 16
Traditional Sources of Nitrogen: Preindustrial Agriculturesp. 21
Recycling of Organic Matterp. 22
Farmyard Manuresp. 25
Cultivation of Legumesp. 28
Nitrogen Balances in Traditional Farmingp. 31
Limits to Recycling and Legume Cultivationp. 35
New Sources of the Nutrient: Searching for Fixed Nitrogenp. 39
Guanop. 40
Sodium Nitratep. 43
By-product Ammonia from Cokingp. 48
Synthesis of Cyanamidep. 51
Electric Arc Processp. 53
Plant Nutrients and Future Food Supplyp. 55
A Brilliant Discovery: Fritz Haber's Synthesis of Ammoniap. 61
Haber's Predecessorsp. 61
Fritz Haberp. 65
Haber's First Experiments with Ammoniap. 68
Nernst and Haberp. 70
BASF and Haberp. 74
High-Pressure Catalytic Synthesisp. 77
Creating an Industry: Carl Bosch and BASFp. 83
Carl Boschp. 85
Designing High-Pressure Convertersp. 87
Finding New Catalystsp. 93
Producing the Feedstocks and Oxidizing Ammoniap. 97
The First Ammonia Plant at Oppaup. 99
Ammonia Synthesis for Warp. 103
Evolution of Ammonia Synthesis: Diffusion and Innovationp. 109
Slow Diffusion of Ammonia Production: 1918-1950p. 111
Expansion and Changes Since 1950p. 116
Natural Gas-Based Ammonia Synthesisp. 118
Single-Train Plants with Centrifugal Compressorsp. 122
Continuing Innovationp. 127
Synthetic Fertilizers: Varieties and Applicationsp. 133
Nitrogen Fertilizersp. 134
Fertilizer Applications: Global Viewsp. 138
Fertilizer Nitrogen in Global Crop Productionp. 143
Regional and National Perspectivesp. 145
The Most Productive Agroecosystemsp. 152
Our Dependence on Nitrogen: Agricultures and Populationsp. 155
How Many People Does Fertilizer Nitrogen Feed?p. 156
Human Protein Requirementsp. 161
Nitrogen in U.S. Agriculturep. 164
Nitrogen in Chinese Farmingp. 167
Growing Dependence during the Twenty-first Centuryp. 172
Consequences of the Dependence: Human Interference in Nitrogen's Biospheric Cyclep. 177
Intensifying the Global Cycling of Nitrogenp. 178
What Happens to Fertilizer Nitrogenp. 180
Nitrogen Losses in Modern Farmingp. 184
Excess Nitrogen and Human Healthp. 188
Nitrogen and Natural Ecosystemsp. 192
Nitrogen and Civilization: Managing the Nitrogen Cyclep. 199
What Has Been Accomplishedp. 201
More Efficient Fertilizingp. 206
Stabilized Populationsp. 211
Rational Dietsp. 214
A Long Viewp. 217
Postscriptp. 223
Appendixesp. 233
Notesp. 253
Name Indexp. 329
Subject Indexp. 331
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780262693134
ISBN-10: 0262693135
Series: The MIT Press
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 358
Published: 27th February 2004
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 17.5  x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.54