Nitrogen becomes artificial fertilizer

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2007



In the Haber-Bosch process nitrogen is extracted from the air to form ammonia. This is an important stage in the production of artificial fertilizers and the process won Fritz Haber the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Even though the chemical process has been known for a long time, thanks to Ertl’s work we now understand how it functions. The reaction can only take place on a catalytic surface of iron. The surface provides support to enable the atoms in the nitrogen molecules to release their bonds so that they can bind to hydrogen and form am­monia. Ertl has studied the reaction with the help of several different spectroscopic methods and put the different results together to form the complete picture.


| The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2007 | Nitrogen | Clean exhaust | Electronics | Timeline | Further Reading | Credits |

Nobel Poster from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, web adapted by Nobel Web AB.

To cite this section
MLA style: Nitrogen becomes artificial fertilizer. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 22 May 2019. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.