To supply the expanding population with food at the end of the nineteenth century raised a growing difficulty, since the nitrogen content of the soils exhausted, whereas the industrial support of nitrogen fertilizers remained unsolved.
Some scientists expected mass starvation. Therefore, a compelling task was undertaken to produce nitrogen compounds by utilizing the nitrogen founf in the air.
The solution came in 1908 from Germany, where Fritz Haber discovered the principles of ammonia synthesis, utilizing all the physical and chemical resources available that time. The synthesis takes place in the presence of an iron catalyst, at high pressure and temperature.
Carl Bosch, chemist at BASF (Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik) commercialized the process by establishing the first state-of-the-art, industrial-level production in 1913. This industrial process allowed for the expansion of both agriculture production and human population during the 20th century.