Birkeland-Eyde process

The Birkeland-Eyde process was developed by the Norwegian industrialist and scientist Kristian Birkeland along with his business partner Sam Eyde. This process was used to fix atmospheric nitrogen which was in turn used to produce nitric acid, used for production of synthetic fertilizer. Factory based on the process was buildt in Rjukan and Notodden in Norway, combined with building of large hydropower facilities. The process is inefficient in terms of energy usage, and is today replaced by the Ostwald process, that produce nitrous acid from ammonia instead of air (usually from the Haber_process).

The process

This is a tedious process and the heating is carried out in the form of pulses by passing alternating current through an electric arc and suppressing the magnetic field created by it. Birkeland used a nearby hydroelectric power station for the electricity as this process demanded about 15000 KWH/Ton. The same reaction is carried out by lightning causing the temperature to rise to about 3000°C in the atmosphere to produce nitric oxide.



The obtained nitric oxide is then oxidised to produce nitrogen dioxide.


This nitrogen dioxide is then dissolved in water to give rise to nitric acid which is then purified by fractional distillation. Much purity is not obtained (68%) as nitric oxide and water form an azeotropic mixture
Kristian Birkeland (December 13, 1867 - June 15, 1917) was born in Christiania (Oslo today) and wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 18. He organized several expeditions to Norway's high-latitude regions where he established a network of observatories under the auroral
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Sam Eyde, (29 October 1866 - 21 June 1940) was a Norwegian engineer and industrialist, the founder of Norsk Hydro, born in Arendal.

Sam (Samuel) Eyde was the son of a shipowner, and studied engineering in Berlin where he graduated in 1891.
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The chemical compound nitric acid (HNO3), also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is an aqueous solution of hydrogen nitrate (anhydrous nitric acid). It is a highly corrosive and toxic acid that can cause severe burns.
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Rjukan is a town and administrative center of Tinn in Telemark. It is situated in Vestfjordalen, between Møsvatn and Tinnsjå, and got its name after Rjukanfossen ("The Smoking Waterfall") west of the town. The Tinn municipality council granted township status for Rjukan in 1996.
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Notodden   is a city and municipality in the county of Telemark, Norway.

Notodden was separated from Heddal as a city, and a municipality of its own, in 1913.
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The Ostwald process is chemical process for producing nitric acid, which was developed by Wilhelm Ostwald (patented 1902). It is a mainstay of the modern chemical industry.
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Fractional distillation is the separation of a mixture into its component parts, or fractions, such as in separating chemical compounds by their boiling point by heating them to a temperature at which several fractions of the compound will evaporate.
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An azeotrope is a mixture of two or more pure compounds (chemicals) in such a ratio that its composition cannot be changed by simple distillation.[1] This is because when an azeotrope is boiled, the resulting vapor has the same ratio of constituents as the
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In chemistry, a mixture is a substance made by combining two or more different materials in such a way that no chemical reaction occurs. The objects do not bond together in a mixture. A mixture can usually be separated back into its original components.
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