University Chemistry ›› 2021, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (4): 2008035.doi: 10.3866/PKU.DXHX202008035

• Chemistry History • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Revisiting Classic Cases of Original Discoveries and Inventions: Ammonia Synthesis in Chemistry

Yaqin Wang1,2, Teng Ma2,*()   

  1. 1 School of Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Shenyang Ligong University, Shenyang 110159, China
    2 Institute of Science, Shenyang Agricultural University, Shenyang 110866, China
  • Received:2020-08-12 Accepted:2020-09-30 Published:2020-11-16
  • Contact: Teng Ma


The paper would revisit the classic story of ammonia synthesis and explore the untold details to get some hints about how an original idea or solution was produced in running research projects. There were generations of prominent scientists who had devoted to ammonia synthesis and failed with the loss of their fame, time or even lives. Fritz Haber accepted the challenge accidently, and confirmed a sound technological method that ammonia could be synthesized directly from its elements. Afterwards, his method was transferred successfully to the mainstream technology that influences the development of modern agriculture and society. The direct synthesis of ammonia has been used as one of the classic case studies of achieving original ideas or solutions by our graduate students in their professional careers. Furthermore, for the supervisors or service personnel in universities or research institutes, it would provide with an arsenal of spurring scientific discoveries or technological developments in graduate education programs.

Key words: Graduate education program, Original discoveries and inventions, Ammonia synthesis, Chemical thermodynamics, Catalysis