My watch list  

Friedrich Bergius

Friedrich Karl Rudolf Bergius

Friedrich Karl Rudolf Bergius
Born11 October 1884(1884-10-11)
Breslau (Wrocław), Germany
DiedMarch 30 1949 (aged 64)
InstitutionsLeibniz University Hannover
Alma materUniversity of Breslau,
University of Leipzig
Academic advisor  Richard Abegg,
Arthur Rudolf Hantzsch
Known forBergius process
Notable prizes Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1931)
Friedrich Karl Rudolf Bergius (October 11, 1884 – March 30, 1949) was a German chemist known for the Bergius process for producing synthetic fuel from lignite coal.

Bergius was born near Breslau (Wrocław), within the German Empire's Prussian Province of Silesia.


Academic career

Before he studied chemistry he worked at the steal works in Mühlheim. His studies started at the University of Breslau in 1903 and endend with a Phd in chemistry at the University of Leipzig in 1907, after only 4 years. His thesis at on sulfuric acid as solvent was supervised by Arthur Rudolf Hantzsch. In 1909 Bergius worked for one semester together with Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch at the University of Karlsruhe in the development of the Haber Bosch Process. In the same year he was offered a position at the Leibniz University Hannover were Max Bodenstein, who developed the idea of chemical kinetics held a position as professor.


Synthetic fuel from coal

During his habilitation techniques for the high pressure and high temperature chemistry of carbon containing substrates were developed, yielding a patent on the Bergius process in 1913. In this process liquid hydrocarbons for use as synthetic fuel are produced by hydrogenation of lignite (brown coal). He developed the process well before the commonly known Fischer-Tropsch process. Theodor Goldschmidt invited him to built an industrial plant at his factory the Th. Goldschmidt AG in 1914. The production started not before 1919 well after World War I when the need for fuel was declining already. The technical problems, inflation and the constant criticism of Franz Joseph Emil Fischer, which changed to support after a personal demonstration of the process, made the progress slow and Bergius sold his patent to the BASF, where Carl Bosch worked on it. In the prepartions of World War II several plants where built with a capacit of 4 mio tonns of fuel.

Sugar from wood

The hydrolysis of wood to produce sugar for industrial use became a hard task for Bergius. After he moved to Heidelberg he started to improve the process and planned an industrial scale production. The high costs and technical problems nearly lead to his bankruptcy. To get the money from his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1931 a bailiff followed him to Stockholm. The autarcy movement before the World War II boosted the process and several pants were built. Bergius moved to Berlin were he was only marginally involved in the development. While he was in Bad Gastein Austria, his laboratory and his house where destoied by an air raid. The rest of the war he staid in Austria.

International engagement

After the war he was as advisor in Italy, Turky, Switzerland and Spain. He died during a visit to Argentinia on March 30 1949, where he laned no industrial palnts.


He and Carl Bosch won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1931 in recognition of their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high pressure methods.

Further reading

  • Kerstein, Gunther (1970). "Bergius, Friedrich". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 3-4. ISBN 0684101149. 
  • Anthony N. Stranges (1984). "Friedrich Bergius and the Rise of the German Synthetic Fuel Industry". Isis 75 (4): 642-667.
  • Dietrich Stoltzenberg (1999). "Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch und Friedrich Bergius - Protagonisten der Hochdrucksynthese". Chemie in unserer Zeit 33 (6): 359-364. doi:10.1002/ciuz.19990330607.
  • Robert Haul (1985). "Das Portrait: Freidrich Berguis (1884-1949)". Chemie in unserer Zeit 19 (2): 59-67. doi:10.1002/ciuz.19850190205.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Friedrich_Bergius". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE