The Gruppo Intervidisionale di
Catalisi has decided to dedicate the Italian Seminar on Catalysis to Giacomo Fauser.
Giacomo Fauser (Novara, 11/1/1892; Novara, 7/12/1971)
In 1913, as a student at the "Politecnico di Milano", he invents a water
electrolysis cell with the aim of producing the oxygen necessary for the welding machine
in his father's factory in Novara. With the aim of utilising the hydrogen produced, he
develops an innovative process for ammonia synthesis. Using part of the produced hydrogen
to consume the oxygen in air he obtained high purity nitrogen. He used a war-residual
"howitzer" of 320 mm diameter as a reactor. In 1920 he was capable of producing
100 Kg of ammonia per day.
In 1921 he founds, with Guido Donegani (President of Montecatini) and Ettore Conti
(senator and president of the "Imprese Elettriche Conti", later Edison), the
"SocietÓ Elettrochimica Novarese". This was the beginning of the collaboration
with Montecatini and the development of the Fauser-Montecatini processes. The Fauser
ammonia synthesis process was already cited in the international literature in 1923 and,
with further developments, was employed in the construction of 86 plants world-wide. In
addition to the water electrolysis and ammonia synthesis processes, Fauser developed
innovative processes for the production of ammonium sulphate, 60 and 98 % nitric acid,
ammonium nitrate, urea, synthesis gas from methane and liquid hydrocarbons, methanol, and
acetylene from methane and crude-oil.
All of Fauser's processes were characterised by high energy efficiency and many hundreds
of chemical plants were constructed world-wide using Fauser-Montecatini technology.
He was awarded three honorary degrees abroad (Zurich, Vezprem and Lovanio) and numerous
honours both in Italy and abroad, including the "Order of the Sacred Treasure"
from the Emperor of Japan.
Adapted from "Il contributo di Giacomo Fauser e dei centri di ricerca di Novara alla
nascita ed allo sviluppo dell'Industria Chimica Italiana", P. Scaglione, De Agostani,