Factors that Affect the Rate of a Chemical Reaction

Brief biographical information about the life of F. Haber - a German chemist and Nobel laureate. Investigation the reaction of nitrogen with hydrogen, which produces ammonia. The essence of Le Chatelier's Principle. The main function of the catalyst.

Рубрика Химия
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 04.02.2015
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Chemistry Essay

Topic: Factors that Affect the Rate of a Chemical Reaction

Fritz Haber process

Fritz Haber - is a German chemist, and the Nobel laureate. He got his prize for his useful and important scientific discovery about the reaction of nitrogen with hydrogen, which produces ammonia - NH3. (Distributed material)

Ammonia is a colorless gas with a choking smell, which is used to make fertilizers, explosives, dyes, household cleaners and nylon. It is also the most important raw material in the manufacture of nitric acid. (“Ammonia and the Haber process”) The process of producing ammonia is called the Haber process.

Great chemist Fritz Haber started his discovery with hydrogen and nitrogen in 1905. He tried to extract ammonia in order to get a nitric acid. The main problem of that time was the impetuous increasing in population. It led to the decreasing of amount of natural resources of fertilizers. So, the main issue was to get fertilizers that would be in excess with nitrogen. Haber was not the only one who tried to synthesize ammonia with using the reaction between nitrogen and hydrogen. But other methods required 1000°C temperature. However, Mr. Haber did not gave up and after a series of experiments, he came to the conclusion that ammonia could be extracted at the temperature of 300°C. (НиТ, “Haber Fritz”, 2000). As it was written before, main materials for this reaction are hydrogen and nitrogen. Hydrogen is obtained by reacting natural gas - methane - with steam, or through the cracking of oil. Nitrogen is obtained by burning hydrogen in air. Air is 80 per cent nitrogen; nearly all the rest is oxygen. When hydrogen is burned in air, the oxygen combines with the hydrogen, leaving nitrogen behind. Nitrogen and hydrogen will react together under several conditions, which include a temperature about 300°C-450°C, a high pressure about 200 atmospheres (200 times normal pressure), and an iron catalyst. (“Ammonia and the Haber process”) Here is a chemical equation of the reaction:

Nitrogen + Hydrogen Ammonia

N2(g) + 3H2(g) 2NH3(g)

The reaction is reversible, and some nitrogen and hydrogen remain mixed with the ammonia. The reaction mixture is cooled so that the ammonia liquefies and can be removed. The remaining nitrogen and hydrogen are recycled. (“Ammonia and the Haber process”)

Equilibrium temperature for this reaction is 300-450°C. According to Le Chatelier's Principle, at the lower temperature more ammonia will be produced. As the reaction is exothermic, it produces heat. It means that at higher temperature more heat and less ammonia will be produced, and visa verse. (Clark, “THE HABER PROCESS”, 2013)

In order to get much ammonia, we need a high pressure, 200 atmospheres is a high pressure. According to Le Chatelier's Principle, it happens because when pressure increases molecules become closer to each other. Therefore, it increases probability of collisions and affects the rate of a gas reaction. (Clark, “THE HABER PROCESS”, 2013)

Another factor, which is involved in the reaction, is catalyst. Catalyst speeds up the reaction, so, it gives alternative way of lower activation energy. (Clark, “THE HABER PROCESS”, 2013)

This discovery has many advantages and takes big role in our world. At first, at the end of this process ammonia is produced. Ammonia, an industrially important chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. At ordinary temperatures and pressures, ammonia is a colorless gas about three-fifths as heavy as air. It is poisonous and has a strong, choking odor. Ammonia dissolves readily in water, alcohol, and ether. In solid form, it is white and crystalline. (HowStuffWorks, "Ammonia") Using fertilizers full of nitrogen helped to prevent reducing of natural resources. However, like every innovation, Haber's discovery has disadvantages. Main disadvantage of it is eutrophication. In other words ammonia affects, more precisely decreases water quality. It also increases the death rate of aquatic species.

catalyst haber ammonia


1. Ammonia and the Haber process. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_aqa_pre_2011/chemreac/energychangesrev3.shtml

2. Ammonia. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/ammonia-info.htm

3. Clark, J. (2013, April 1). The Haber Process for the manufacture of ammonia. Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.chemguide.co.uk/physical/equilibria/haber.html

4. Haber Fritz. (2000, February 2). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://n-t.ru/nl/hm/haber.htm

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