Military Review

Historical milestones of the technical revolution. Taming Nitrogen

Historical milestones of the technical revolution. Taming Nitrogen

Erich Georg Sebastian Anton von Falkenhayn (1861-1922), German Minister of War, Chief of the General Staff during the First World War

At the end of 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, a mortal threat loomed over the German army. No one knew about this danger - neither soldiers at the front, nor civilians in the rear. The enemy did not know about her either. The Germans pressed the allies in both Belgium and France, and they could not have imagined that the overwhelming German army was about to suffer a complete catastrophe.

Only the German War Ministry and General Staff knew the truth.

From morning till night they rushed about, counted something and counted endlessly. Telephones and dispatches from the front rang continuously, and from all over the country poured on the tables, and one was more alarming in the other:

- Warehouses are empty!
- Put the last tons into the devices!
“There is no more than five weeks left in stock.”
“There are four weeks left.”
- There will be enough saltpeter for three weeks. It also takes into account that which is in transit, in wagons, and that which is available in warehouses, and that which is already loaded into the factory apparatus. In three weeks, everything will be over ...

Meanwhile, the war was just flaring up.

There were endless demands from the front: cartridges, shells, shells! But for the production of cartridges and shells, gunpowder and explosives are needed. And for the production of gunpowder and explosives, nitric acid is required. And nitric acid was obtained from nitrate. And saltpeter ...

Inexhaustible reserves of nitrate were located on the Pacific coast, in distant Chile. And not a single gram of it got any more into Germany, blocked by the English naval fleet.

Why didn’t the Germans take care of stocking up on nitrate in advance? Because they did not expect the war to be so long. The Ministry of War prepared cannons, rifles, shells, cartridges - everything that was directly needed for the army. The Germans believed that they procured enough for no less than a year. Well, the war, in their opinion, was supposed to end in a few months. But life completely overturned their calculations.

In the very first days, the battles unfolded with such force that the stocks of shells began to decline at lightning speed. Thousands of tons of lead and iron erupted into battlefields in one day. That which relied on a month was spent a week, or even a day. People invented machine guns and quick-firing guns, but they could not imagine in advance how much this would change the war.

German manufacturers of gunpowder were the first to feel the burden of miscalculation.

- More gunpowder! More TNT! More melinite! - demanded from them the War Ministry.
- Nitre! Give nitrate! - unanimously answered the manufacturers.

And saltpeter was on the other side of the equator, in the reach of Chile ...

Government agents scoured all over Germany, raided the estates of the landlords, on peasant farms. Each bag of nitrogen fertilizer was solemnly requisitioned. After all, saltpeter is used not only for the production of explosives, but also for fertilizing fields ..

Everything was in vain. The catastrophe was approaching Germany. The day was approaching inexorably when its millions of armies, stationed in Belgium, France and Poland, were supposed to be completely unarmed, although they had tens of thousands of perfectly functioning machine guns, guns, howitzers.

But long before the war ended, another, completely inexhaustible source of nitrogen raw materials was at the disposal of Germany. This source was more than enough in Germany for the production of explosives and fertilizers. It is thousands of times richer than Chilean deposits and infinitely more accessible. It is enough for all countries of the globe, for peace and war, for all times and for all peoples. This source delayed the military defeat of Germany in World War I.

Twelve years before the events described, in the fall of 1898, the British Association of Naturalists gathered in the city of Bristol. The congress was opened by the president of the society, physicist William Crookes.

Sir William Crookes (1832-1919), English chemist and physicist, president of the Royal Society of London. Crookes entered history as a person who discovered thallium and first received helium in the laboratory

It was expected that he, as usual, would talk about new discoveries, about the most important scientific problems that researchers in England and other countries are working on. But Crookes went to the podium to make a formidable warning. Through the heads of the congress participants, he addressed to all of humanity with a sensational speech, which sounded like a distress signal.

- What I will talk about applies to the whole world, all nations and each person individually. This is a burning issue today and a matter of life and death for future generations. England and all civilized nations are in danger of starvation. The population is growing, but there is little land. The world has become accustomed to the thought that somewhere else there are millions of free acres that you can plow at any moment to feed the ever-growing population of the globe. But this is not true: soon all free lands will be used. We have only one way left - to intensively fertilize the fields in order to remove higher yields from them.

We need nitrogen. Where to get it?

Clover gives a certain amount of nitrogen, but it has already been used for several years, and this does not save the situation.

We fertilize the fields with nitrate, but its reserves in Chile are not unlimited. In twenty to thirty years they will be exhausted. And then the world will be on the edge of the abyss.

Thirty years is a moment in the life of nations. Many of those present here, perhaps, will also sit at the next congress of the British Association in 1928, and then they will see how correct my predictions were. There is, however, a ray of light in this gloomy picture. Nitrogen in a free state as much as you like on earth.

We must learn to bind it, to bind at all costs!

The chemist must come to the rescue of humanity, over which the threat looms. Only chemistry can prevent starvation and create abundance on earth ...

Although nitrogen means “lifeless,” life is impossible without it. All the tissues of our body, our muscles, brain, blood - everything is built from substances containing nitrogen. Where does he get from there? Is it out of thin air? No, the nitrogen that we swallow while breathing comes out of our lungs is completely unchanged. Each day, each of us inhales about 10 kilograms of atmospheric nitrogen, but not a single particle of it is absorbed by our body!

We do not know how to use free, neutral nitrogen. Breathing does not saturate us. We consume only earlier, without us bound nitrogen, that which is contained in animal and vegetable food. Each cutlet or scrambled eggs that we eat is a nitrogen ration, which we took in finished form from animals. And animals take bound nitrogen from plants that extract it from the soil. It enters the soil from manure, from rotting plant debris.

Only some bacteria can directly extract the necessary nitrogen for life from the air. They “eat” free nitrogen, they bind it, turn it into complex nitrogenous substances from which a living cell is built. Such bacteria in large numbers live in soil and on tubers of leguminous plants - clover, alfalfa. This is why clover is so beneficial to sow: it enriches the soil with bound nitrogen taken directly from the air.

But clover is usually not enough to make up for the loss of nitrogenous substances in the ground. And so people found in faraway Chile huge deposits of fossil nitrogen salt - nitrate. This precious substance, in which "captured" nitrogen sits, began to be transported around the world. Part went to military enterprises, part - to the fields, for fertilizer.

And at the same time, a boundless ocean of free nitrogen flows over people's heads ...

Nitrogen ... The brightest fire instantly goes out in it. Animals die in it from suffocation.

Four fifths of lifeless, inert nitrogen consists of our entire atmosphere, and one fifth of the air is life-giving and active oxygen. But although nitrogen is closely mixed with oxygen, it almost never comes into contact with it.

If, in some way, nitrogen can still be “captured”, bound with oxygen, then this compound takes on terrible power. Lazy nitrogen then becomes energetic and wild. He strives at all costs to break free again, free himself from the violent connection with oxygen. This is the basis for the action of almost all explosives. In gunpowder, dynamite, trotyl, melinite, nitrogen is held captive. He waits only for the first spark, push, detonation, to break the bonds that hold him near oxygen. And the active oxygen released at the same time as it is pounced on the combustible base of the explosive and instantly burns it. So there is an explosion.

But if nitrogen is released very easily and simply, it is incredibly difficult to bind it.

Seven years after William Crookes made such a passionate appeal, a man’s hand tamed nitrogen for the first time.

In Norway, not far from a fairly powerful hydroelectric station, two researchers, Professor Birkeland and engineer Eide, built an unusual plant - a plant for burning air nitrogen.

Christian Olaf Bernhard Birkeland (1867-1917)

Samuel Eide (1866-1940)

At the plant there were round electric furnaces, and air nitrogen burned in them, like refueling fuel. After all, the air surrounding us is a combustible mixture. It contains any amount of oxygen needed for combustion, and nitrogen, which can be forced to combine with oxygen, that is, burn. Incredible efforts are required to make it burn.

How did they light the nitrogen of Birkeland and Eide? They borrowed their way from nature.

In any thunderstorm, whenever lightning strikes, part of the nitrogen burns out. Powerful electric discharges not only turn oxygen into odorous ozone, but also remove “lazy” nitrogen from equilibrium, causing it to flash, to combine with oxygen.

Did you think, watching a bright flash of lightning, that the atmosphere itself burns?

When nitrogen is burned, corrosive nitrogen oxides are formed, and they immediately dissolve in raindrops. It turns out real nitric acid, which spills on the ground. We do not notice this just because it is very diluted. Nevertheless, it falls not so little: an average of about 10 kilograms per hectare annually.

At Birkeland and Eide, lightning was created artificially.

A powerful electric current was supplied to two copper rods mounted one against the other. Between the rods there was a dazzling voltaic arc. With the help of a strong electromagnet, this arc was inflated, stretched so that a huge circle of fire was obtained, two human height high. And in this round lightning, where the temperature reached 4500 degrees, air was continuously blown.

The nitrogen that got into such a hot alteration had no choice but to combine with oxygen.

However, as soon as he left the furnace, he immediately sought to escape from captivity: nitrogen oxides immediately after their occurrence immediately began to decompose into its constituent parts - into nitrogen and oxygen. So that the nitrogen associated with such labor would not regain freedom, it was necessary to instantly, with great speed, cool the burned air. Only then was it possible to protect nitrogen oxides from decomposition. Then they were dissolved in water and treated with lime.

So Birkeland and Eide received artificial nitrate - nitrate from the air.

This was the first gap in the ring of the hungry blockade, imperceptibly approaching the world.

But the production of new nitrate still developed tightly. When burning air, a lot of electric energy was consumed, and this greatly increased the cost of nitrate. Only in Norway and in other places where there are many mountain rivers and waterfalls that provide cheap energy, the production of air fertilizer still paid off somehow.

Birkeland and Eide actually proved that William Crookes' call for chemists was not in vain. Nevertheless, natural Chilean nitrate, the reserves of which were slowly but surely depleted, still reigned in agriculture and in the military industry of most countries of the world.

At a time when Birkeland and Eide were just about to build a plant to burn air nitrogen, Fritz Haber made an attempt to bind nitrogen in a different way.

Fritz Gaber (1868-1934), German chemist, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1918

At first, he conducted a very modest laboratory experiment: a small porcelain tube was heated with an electric current to 1000 degrees and passed through it a mixture of two gases - nitrogen and hydrogen.

What should have come of it?

In all textbooks and chemical reference books it was firmly and decisively written that nitrogen never combines with hydrogen under any circumstances.

Having carefully examined the gas that escaped from the porcelain tube, Gaber was convinced that this was almost correct: the mixture of nitrogen and hydrogen did not change at all due to the action of high temperature, except for an insignificant part - one five-thousandth part of this mixture. A tiny fraction of nitrogen nevertheless bound, united, forming a small bubble of a new complex substance - ammonia.

Gaber decided that for a start this is not so bad at all. If nitrogen can even join with hydrogen at all, then we must try to find such means that would make it combine easily and quickly.

For several years in a row, Gaber persistently sought these funds. He set up countless experiments, made complex theoretical calculations, and ultimately achieved his goal. Gaber concluded that the nitrogen-hydrogen mixture had to be compressed strongly before being heated. And in fact, due to the high pressure, nitrogen has become much better connected with hydrogen.

Then Gaber picked up a catalyst for this reaction. (Catalysts are called substances that, by their presence alone, can accelerate various chemical transformations.) And under the triple influence of high temperature, high pressure and catalyst, nitrogen surrendered. In a thick-walled laboratory apparatus, similar to a barrel of an outlandish cannon, nitrogen, compressed to 200 atmospheres and heated to 500-600 degrees, actively connected with hydrogen, forming odorous caustic ammonia.

In 1908, Gaber proposed to one of the largest chemical plants in Germany to begin production of ammonia from air by his method.

Practical industrialists at first did not want to hear about it. High pressure ... High temperature ... Who would venture to start a production that requires devices like artillery pieces? In the barrel of the gun at the time of the shot there is a monstrous pressure of 3 thousand atmospheres and a temperature of 2500 degrees. But at least it only lasts a hundredth of a second! And Gaber proposed building factory machines that would work continuously, day and night, under tremendous pressure and at high temperature. And in addition it was required that they did not leak anywhere, that all connections were tight, tight, like any compressed gas cylinder. Where to find such a durable metal that would satisfy such unheard of requirements?

Nevertheless, Gaber persuaded the engineers to come to look at his laboratory installation.

Engineers arrived, convinced in advance that they were wasting time. But when nitrogen in their eyes, taken directly from the air, turned into caustic ammonia, from which it plucked in the nose and tears flowed, their hearts trembled. It was too amazing, too wonderful! As experienced chemists, company representatives knew quite well what free nitrogen was, and this small laboratory miracle promised them huge profits.

The agreement has taken place.

Engineer Karl Bosch, undertook to put in the factory production of ammonia according to the method of Haber.

Karl Bosch (1874-1940), German chemist, engineer, Nobel laureate in chemistry in 1931

He had to overcome unheard of difficulties. The Haber catalyst was too gentle and sensitive to factory work. The smallest impurities in the gas “poisoned” him, and he became unusable. I had to find sophisticated, but cheap ways to clean the gas. I had to select new catalysts, at the same time highly active, but crude and insensitive to “poisons”.

However, the most trouble was delivered by the apparatus for ammonia production itself.

There was no such metal in the world, such steel, which could withstand heat and enormous pressure and the action of gases for a long time. There was therefore nothing left to do, how to create a new metallurgy, to look for new steel compositions.

But after much work, it was possible to produce heavy-duty steel, a miracle metal. Heated to a temperature of 500-600 degrees, under pressure that would be enough to tear ordinary steel to shreds, like paper, this amazing metal steadfastly carried its heavy service. Suddenly a new misfortune: it turns out that hydrogen was leaking from inside the apparatus!

This brisk, nosy gas - the lightest, thinnest substance in the world, penetrated through dense metal, like water through a sieve. In addition, he chemically acted on the metal, making it brittle. At the cost of tremendous efforts, Bosch managed to cope with this obstacle and with many others. In 1913, in the city of Oppau, the first plant was finally launched, producing ammonia according to the method of Haber. And then, already during the war, when they learned to convert ammonia into nitric acid, Germany began to feverishly build more and more new plants for the production of ammonia from the air, one more powerful than the other. This delayed the military defeat of Germany in the First World War. What else, and air in Germany, blocked on all sides, was enough ...

The Haber method has long been the property of all advanced industrial countries. He easily supplanted the way Birkeland and Eide. Chilean nitrate also lost its former meaning. Why, in fact, carry substance from the end of the world that can be obtained at home, anywhere, anywhere? Chile’s nitrate production fell from 2,5 million tons in 1925 (the cost of one ton of raw materials was $ 45) to 800 thousand tons sold at $ 19 per ton in 1934. The chemist, as Crookes once predicted, really saved the world from the threat of hunger.

The story would not be complete if we had not fully traced the fate of its main characters: Dr. Fritz Haber and chemical engineer Karl Bosch.

Fritz Gaber is one of the greatest chemists of our time. He has done more for Germany than anyone else, more than all its generals, more than its commanders-in-chief. After all, he supplied the army and agriculture with nitrogen for the entire time of the war! If not for Gaber, it is unlikely that Germany would have been able to hold out for more than four years in the grip of blockade and famine.

Gaber played a key role in the development of chemical weapons during the first world war. Shortly after the outbreak of war, he headed the chemical department of the War Department. Part of his work included the development of gas masks with adsorbent filters. He led teams developing the use of chlorine and other deadly trench warfare gases.

Talking about war and peace, Gaber once said: “In peacetime, a scientist belongs to the world, but during a war he belongs to his country.” Gaber was a German patriot and was proud of his help to the country during the First World War, for which the Kaiser awarded the scientist, not subject to age of military service, the rank of captain.

On May 2, 1915, Gaber's wife committed suicide. She shot herself with a gun belonging to him, having made such a decision due to the fact that Gaber personally controlled the first successful use of chlorine during the Second Battle of Ypres on April 22, 1915.

Clara Immerwar, wife of Gaber

In 1933, the Nazis came to power in Germany. At the Haber Institute, famous all over the world for its remarkable scientific work, people appeared in brown uniforms. And the fierce purge began. The laboratories were empty, dozens of scientists were thrown into the street, expelled from the country, and some ended up in a concentration camp. Soon, the most sixty-five-year-old Fritz Gaber, a Nobel laureate, a hero of the First World War, had to follow his staff. Although he would have been a zealous Lutheran for more than forty years, he was reminded of a "non-Aryan" dad. In old age, with a sore heart, offended and humiliated, the great scientist found himself in exile. The University of the English city of Cambridge hastened to provide the famous exile with a shelter and a laboratory. But the blow dealt to him was too strong. Gaber’s career is over. In January 1934, he died in a foreign land from a heart attack.

Subsequently, after World War II, in 1946 his son, German Gaber, will commit suicide because of the awareness of the troubles brought by the substance Cyclone B, invented in his father’s laboratory in 1920. German Nazis used Cyclone B to destroy prisoners in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other death camps.

It was not easy for Carl Bosch.

He served at the aniline dye and fertilizer plant, which also produced explosive components and BASF phosgene gas, located near the town of Oppau, when an explosion occurred on September 21, 1921.

The immediate cause of the tragedy was detonation when using explosives to crush the packed stocks of ammonium sulfate and nitrate, stored in anticipation of a seasonal peak in sales of agricultural fertilizers in a nearby quarried clay quarry. Prior to this, cardboard tubes with black powder, which did not cause detonation, were used for a long time for these purposes. However, the blasting contractor decided to save money and used a more powerful explosive, a rekarok (a mixture of bertholite salt and gasoline), to initiate detonation of the explosive mixture to loosen packed salts. 12 thousand tons of a mixture of ammonium sulfate and nitrate exploded, the explosion energy was estimated at 4-5 kilotons of TNT equivalent.

In Oppau, out of 1000 buildings, 800 were destroyed, 7500 people were left homeless. The explosion destroyed the nearby villages of Frankenthal and Edigheim. Trains at nearby stations were thrown off the track, and within a radius of 70 km, including the cities of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim, windows were broken in all buildings, the sound of the explosion was heard even in Munich, located 300 km away. After the explosion, which left a funnel measuring 90 by 125 meters and a depth of 20 meters, a strong fire started, which was extinguished only a few days later. 561 people became victims of the disaster, more than one and a half thousand were injured and burned.

Here are some photos from the scene of the tragedy.

The catastrophe in Oppau served to describe the explosion of the chemical plant of the Anilin Company in Germany in the novel by A. N. Tolstoy, "Engineer Garin's Hyperboloid."

Bosch founded IG Farben, the largest chemical and technological conglomerate of the time. For personal and professional reasons, Bosch was opposed to Nazi anti-Semitism. Among his closest associates in 1933 there were several Jews. He saw a big problem in the suppression and dismissal of Jewish scholars and criticized Nazi politics hostile to science. In particular, Bosch rejected anti-Semitic legislation and advocated for the stay of Jewish scholars in Germany. He offered help to his colleague, Fritz Haber, when he was expelled in 1933, and many fellow specialists turned his back on him. Bosch appeared with all the IG Farben board members remaining at that time at a ceremony organized by Max Planck in January 1935 on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Gaber, which was forbidden to all university workers by decree of the Reich Minister of Science, Education and Public Education Bernhard Rust.

In 1937, under the pressure of Nazi laws, all workers of IG Farben of Jewish origin were fired.

Bosch was of the opinion that positions in industry, economics, and science should be taken by professionals from these fields, not Nazi politicians. With this he linked the hope of preventing the worst. He realized too late that this hope was false and that he became an accomplice in the crimes of the Nazi regime. Bosch told Richard Willstätter about a meeting with Hitler at which he, in his own words, warned Hitler that the expulsion of Jewish scientists would set German physics and chemistry a hundred years ago. In response, Hitler exclaimed: "Then we will work for a hundred years without physics and chemistry!" Then he called his adjutant and, with exaggerated politeness, declared that adviser Karl Bosch wanted to leave. From international political sanctions Bosch saved only international fame.

On June 7, 1939, Bosch made a speech at the annual meeting of the German Museum Museum Munich saying that “science can flourish only in conditions of freedom, and that the economy and the state will inevitably perish if science is exposed to such a stifling political, worldview and racial restrictions, as under National Socialism. " Subsequently, Rudolph Hess demanded that Bosch be deprived of all posts and forbidden to speak publicly. Bosch really lost his various posts and, under pressure from the National Socialists, was forced to resign as chairman of the board of IG Farben. In the last years of his life, Bosch suffered from deep depression and in 1939 even attempted suicide. He died in 1940.

Nechaev I. Chemical weapons.
Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron.
Handbook of a chemist. M., 1985.
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  1. bessmertniy
    bessmertniy 22 March 2020 07: 03 New
    Unfortunately, serious scientific achievements in that Germany served to the fact that German fascism, which had gained strength, threatened to conquer the world. negative .
    1. gridasov
      gridasov 22 March 2020 11: 33 New
      Everyone with breakthrough technologies has a desire to use their superiority.
  2. Thrifty
    Thrifty 22 March 2020 07: 26 New
    Alexander hi For a long time you were not on the site Your storytelling style is different from all other authors, thanks for the article! I am sure that you will continue to continue your reviews! hi
  3. Cowbra
    Cowbra 22 March 2020 08: 02 New
    Generally in the chem. technology has a lot of interesting things. And in the Haber method the most interesting. that the reaction is reversible, and ammonia must be removed immediately. otherwise it will fall back into hydrogen with oxygen
  4. Mordvin 3
    Mordvin 3 22 March 2020 08: 03 New
    BASF phosgene

    Yeah ... I didn’t know what exactly BASF was doing. Good article.
    1. Sergey M. Karasev
      Sergey M. Karasev 22 March 2020 10: 09 New
      True, the French were the first to adopt phosgens. But the Germans were the most advanced in terms of WWW in WWII.
      1. A. Privalov
        22 March 2020 17: 58 New
        Tsarist Russia was also not very far behind in this matter. The successful experience of using OMs by the German troops could not leave the Russian military indifferent. Already on June 2, 1915, our top general Yanushkevich ordered the start of work on the creation of chemical munitions and the supply of troops to them. On August 3, an order was issued to form a special commission for the preparation of asphyxiating materials at the Main Artillery Directorate (GAU).
        In 1915, a chemical production deployment program was implemented in Russia, coordinated by Gen. Leith., Acad. V.N. Ipatiev. In August 1915, the first industrial chlorine was produced; in October, phosgene production began. In February 1916, the production of hydrocyanic acid was organized at the Tomsk University by local scientists.

        By the fall of 1916, the army’s requirements for chemical 76-mm shells were fully satisfied: the army received 15000 shells per month, including 3 poisonous and 000 asphyxi. At the beginning of 12, 000-mm cannon and 1917-mm howitzer chemical shells were developed and prepared for use in combat conditions. In the spring of 107, chemical munitions for mortars and hand-held chemical grenades began to enter the troops.

        On a large scale, chemical weapons were used by the Russian army in the summer of 1916 during the Brusilovsky breakthrough. 76-mm shells with strangulation agents (chloropicrin) and poisonous (phosgene, vensinite) action showed their high efficiency in suppressing enemy artillery batteries. The field artillery inspector general telegraphed to the chief of the GAU that in the May and June offensive of 1916, chemical 76-mm shells "did a great service to the army."

        In addition to combating enemy artillery, where chemical shells were particularly effective, the tactics of using chemical weapons by the Russian army included the use of chemical shells as an aid in order to force the enemy to leave cover and make it accessible to conventional artillery fire. Combined attacks were also carried out: the creation of a gas wave (gas-balloon attack) and the firing of chemical shells on targets not affected by it.
        1. Sergey M. Karasev
          Sergey M. Karasev 22 March 2020 18: 10 New
          Thanks for the interesting addition.
    2. A. Privalov
      22 March 2020 17: 32 New
      Quote: Mordvin 3
      I did not know what exactly BASF was doing.

      I don’t know if it will be interesting for you, but for the sake of justice, I’ll say a few words about phosgene and BASF.
      The fact is that this is a very old company and since its inception in 1865 it has been dealing with dyes, and phosgene is used in their production. Phosgene first received back in 1812 (!) The year of Humphrey Davy. Imagine Napoleon, Borodino, a fire in Moscow, and phosgene has already been created.
      So, a completely peaceful, albeit very toxic substance - phosgene was applied Kaiser Germany during the First World War as a chemical warfare agent.
      Three years after Versailles in defeated Germany, phosgene continued to be used in the manufacture of paints. BASF, this is an aniline factory.
      By the way, phosgene is still used in the production of plastics - polycarbonates. All plastic bottles, CD and DVD discs, honeycomb panels are all polycarbonates. They are produced in millions of tons. Imagine the amount of phosgene consumed for these purposes? They say that there is a production method without phosgene, but experts say that the quality is not at all right.
      Phosgen can even be bought directly in Moscow:
      1. A. Privalov
        23 March 2020 10: 11 New
        Quote: A. Privalov
        Phosgen can even be bought directly in Moscow:

        I reread myself and cringed. Has anyone watched the turnover of this chemical? Warehouse in a village 10 km from MKAD ...
        1. A. Privalov
          23 March 2020 10: 37 New

          Pavda, then in the headquarters of the Rosgvardia in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region said that the detected cylinders were empty, they do not pose a danger. But it was not reported by the local newspaper or Meriya, or someone else there, but immediately by TASS (!)
          Everything is clear, no one monitors the movement of hazardous chemicals, even in a big city. I can imagine what can be done in a small ...
  5. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 22 March 2020 08: 37 New
    Thank. It was interesting to read)
  6. Free wind
    Free wind 22 March 2020 08: 39 New
    And why the goat stinks of ammonia, that there is nothing to breathe, although the belly is cool, but harmful.
    1. Mordvin 3
      Mordvin 3 22 March 2020 21: 03 New
      Quote: Free Wind
      And why the goat stinks of ammonia,

      Bedbugs stink of cilantro, or cilantro bedbugs? Can ammonia stink like a goat? wink
      1. Free wind
        Free wind 29 March 2020 06: 24 New
        Bed bugs smell of cognac, or cognac bugs?
  7. Pushkowed
    Pushkowed 22 March 2020 08: 57 New
    In 1900, 1,65 billion people lived in the world. And in 2000 - 6,07 billion. In 2020 - already 7,60 billion. Mankind has never known such an explosive growth in numbers in its entire history. And all thanks to Gaber. His method of synthesizing nitrogen compounds from the air and gave people an unlimited source mineral fertilizers. Before Haber, there were only organic fertilizers (i.e. feces) and there was no organic / mineral separation. Before Haber, the society was "traditional", where the main occupation was agriculture, families had 10 children, but despite all this, the growth in numbers did not exceed a few percent, and so on for many millennia. And here is such a sharp leap. And everyone is already afraid of the threat of overpopulation. All that can be said about this is that nature often places an antidote next to a poison. Haber not only became the "father" of a huge mass of people, but also the father (without quotes) of weapons of mass destruction.
    1. Operator
      Operator 22 March 2020 09: 15 New
      Coronavirus will make a difference.
    2. Jager
      Jager 22 March 2020 15: 36 New
      This method would sooner or later be discovered.
    3. Alexey LK
      Alexey LK 26 March 2020 06: 08 New
      Quote: Pushkowed
      Humanity has never known such an explosive growth in numbers in its entire history. And all thanks to Gaber.

      Come on you! Medicine and pharmaceuticals have impacted population growth much more!
  8. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 22 March 2020 09: 51 New
    A good article, style - a classic non-fiction, easy to read. Respect to the author. There is one missed trifle - the German General Staff was initially against chemical weapons, it was Fritz Haber who insisted on adopting it for the Kaiser army. This explains the suicide of his wife.
    1. A. Privalov
      22 March 2020 18: 15 New
      Quote: Aviator_
      The German General Staff was initially against chemical weapons, it was Fritz Haber who insisted on adopting it in the arsenal of the Kaiser army.

      Something take me doubt. Aren't you putting the cart before the horse?
      I got acquainted with the personality of Haber only when preparing this article. However, I understand quite well what the Großer Generalstab of imperial Germany was like at that time. There are solid Prussians, the devil only knows from what generation, the barons and "backgrounds" are the elite of the army. And then, some kind of rootless peel, shpak, civilian shtafirka came to convince? Yes to Haber, just to be admitted to the General Staff on the threshold, the Kaiser personally awarded the rank of captain. They wouldn't have looked in his direction. Who is he? Nobody can be called.
      I doubt very much that he had to convince anyone of something. He was called as the best specialist in chlorine, ordered to develop a methodology for the use of chlorine as a combat agent, and he patriotically and qualitatively completed his work.
      1. Aviator_
        Aviator_ 22 March 2020 21: 39 New
        The idea of ​​using explosives for military purposes is not new, even during the Crimean War, as Shirokorad wrote, the British wanted to use poisonous substances, and demanded the conclusion of their Royal Society (the British Academy of Sciences), but Maxwell managed to put the brakes on this issue. That is, there are some scientists, and there are others. As for the classic Kaiser warriors - I have no doubt that they looked at some learned Jew from top to bottom. However, OM began to be used only when the war became positional, that is, the previous means of struggle could not turn its tide. This is what he could convince Großer Generalstab. The generals had nowhere to go, Wunderwaffe needed.
        1. A. Privalov
          23 March 2020 00: 08 New
          Quote: Aviator_
          Wunderwaffe was required.

          I didn’t want to get so far into the topic, but rather than speculate, we’ll listen better to smart people:
          Immediately after the declaration of war, experiments with cacodylum oxide and phosgene began to study the possibility of using them in military affairs. True, experiments were soon interrupted by an explosion in the laboratory. However, this did not affect the general course of research and, most importantly, organizational measures. So, the Military Gas School was opened in Berlin, and a special chemical inspection A-10 was set up at the Ministry of War, which was specially involved in chemical warfare. The center for the production of chemical warfare agents was Leverkusen, where the Military Chemical School was transferred to in 1915. By this time, there were 1500 people in it of technical and team personnel, and several thousand workers were employed in the production. In only one of its branches - the laboratory in Gushta - 300 chemists worked.

          The first development of the Military Gas School was the so-called "projectile number 2" - 10,5 cm shrapnel, in which black powder was replaced by dianisidine sulfate .......

          In January 1915, the Germans completed the development of a new chemical projectile known under the brand name “T” - a 15-cm artillery grenade with a strong brisant effect and an irritating chemical substance (xylyl bromide), subsequently replaced by bromoacetone and bromoethyl ketone. The design of the T shell was developed by Dr. Hans von Tappen .....
          In late January, the Germans also used them at the front in left-bank Poland in the Bolimov region, but chemically unsuccessfully, due to the low temperature and insufficient massing of the shooting.

          In April, the Germans first tested the effect of their D grenades at Newpore in Flanders, containing a mixture of benzyl bromide and xylyl.

          Thus, the first attempts to use chemical warfare agents were carried out on such an insignificant scale and with such an insignificant effect that no concrete measures were taken along the line of chemical defense.

          In other words, developments in regard to combat weapons were conducted even before Haber even "appears on the scene."
          In this situation, the high German command quite rightly doubted the effectiveness of the use of gas shells, in addition, during this period there was a sharp shortage of conventional shells at the front.

          The decision to use gas against the Anglo-French forces was made in early 1915, the site of the experiment was determined by the site of the western front, forming a ledge, in the region of Ypres (a small town in northern Belgium). However, the extremely skeptical attitude of the German leadership to the tactical capabilities of toxic agents led to the fact that the use of toxic gas near Iprom was initially considered by the German military leadership as a test of the means of destroying the enemy’s manpower, and not as a tactical means of breaking through the defense.
          Dr. Fritz Gaber, summoned from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, put forward the idea of ​​using poison gas in the form of a gas cloud. He chose chlorine as a chemical agent, which was produced in large quantities in Germany before the war (in 1914, 40 tons of chlorine were produced in Germany daily). Gaber suggested storing and transporting chlorine in liquid form, under pressure, in steel cylinders. The cylinders were supposed to be delivered to combat positions, and in the presence of a tailwind, chlorine was released towards enemy positions.
          By April 11, about 6 thousand gas cylinders (half of them of the usual commercial type were requisitioned in the "national economy") filled with chlorine were dug in a 6-kilometer stretch. In total, the Germans accumulated 160 tons of liquid chlorine. At the first application, Dr. Gaber himself was present.

          Something like that. From the foregoing, it becomes clear that no one was required to convince. Gaber had only to make the right technical decision, which he did.
          1. Aviator_
            Aviator_ 23 March 2020 08: 09 New
            Thanks for the info. So, Gaber was only the author of gas-filled use of OB.
  9. Undecim
    Undecim 22 March 2020 12: 41 New
    How did they light the nitrogen of Birkeland and Eide? They borrowed their way from nature.
    A very romantic version, but in life everything is more prosaic, Birkeland and Eide borrowed their method from Cavendish, who conducted the corresponding experiments in 1784 and prepared a "chemical" theoretical basis, and Julius Plücker, who in 1861 developed the corresponding method of forming an electric arc.
    At the plant there were round electric furnaces, and air nitrogen burned in them, like refueling fuel.

    The reactor, which was used in Ryukan (Norway) from 1916 to 1940, with a capacity of 3000 kW.
    As far as "burning" is concerned, there is no "burning" in the process. Combustion is an exothermic reaction that converts chemical energy into heat. Those. when burning, energy is released.
    In the Birkeland-Ada process, energy, on the contrary, is consumed, and in huge quantities - 15 MWh per ton of nitric acid. The Birkeland-Ad process is relatively inefficient in terms of energy consumption.
  10. gridasov
    gridasov 22 March 2020 12: 43 New
    The technology of compression and synthesis of multicomponent components of even various aggregate states of substances remains relevant today. Therefore, new engineering solutions are extremely important. And if it is also energy-efficient technology, then it is just as good. Therefore, our technology embodied in a real device can give a breakthrough in obtaining new structural substances.
  11. lucul
    lucul 22 March 2020 12: 44 New
    Bosch told Richard Willstätter about a meeting with Hitler at which, in his own words, he warned Hitler that the expulsion of Jewish scientists would throw German physics and chemistry a hundred years ago.

    Only the result was completely opposite - German physics and chemistry from 1934 to 1945 developed simply at a wild pace, significantly ahead of the science of other developed countries, which is not for the good of mankind - this, of course, is another matter.
  12. Eskobar
    Eskobar 22 March 2020 13: 05 New
    Let me deviate from the topic of the story. This material shows how valuable "White Gold" - qualified specialists. I hope that our rulers will also understand this someday, and the new Sikorskys and Kartveli will work for the good of their own side, and not that of others.
  13. NordUral
    NordUral 22 March 2020 13: 32 New
    A busy article, learned a lot. I reminded about a short excursion on explosives in the first year.
  14. Korax71
    Korax71 22 March 2020 14: 06 New
    Alexander hi great article drinks read with interest. good
  15. Jager
    Jager 22 March 2020 15: 37 New
    Thanks to the author for an interesting article.
    Terrible time, terrible fate ...
  16. A. Privalov
    22 March 2020 18: 22 New
    Tormented Goggles:

    This is another photo of Erich Georg Sebastian Anton von Falkenhayn (1861-1922), Minister of War of Germany, chief of the General Staff during the First World War.

    And this is Fritz Gaber (1868-1934), a German chemist, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry in 1918
    Unfortunately, after the publication of the article, I am not able to make changes to it. Sorry humbly ask hi