General view of an apparatus used to study the thermal decomposition of ammonia of the surface of tungsten, molybdenum, nickel, and iron catalysts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory located in Washington, D.C. Such experiments are typically conducted in order to discern additional information regarding the role played by catalysts in the ammonia reaction. The individuals present in the photograph are identified as Mr. J.W. Westhaver (left) and Mr. La Mar (right).
The Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory (F.N.R.L.) was established at American University in 1919 under the directorship of Arthur B. Lamb. Initially part of the War Department, the F.N.R.L. was the successor to several wartime initiatives to develop a secure domestic supply of nitrate compounds necessary for the manufacture of explosives during World War I. With a staff of about 110 individuals, including 35 to 50 chemists, the F.N.R.L. focused on the manufacture, production, and development of products of atmospheric nitrogen, including munitions and fertilizers.
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“Apparatus for Studying the Thermal Decomposition of Ammonia,” August 21, 1928. Travis P. Hignett Collection of Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory Photographs, Box 2. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/js956f90n.
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