In the early 20th century, the work of two scientists, Haber and Bosch, led to the discovery and creation of an industrial process capable of extracting atmospheric nitrogen. The process uses natural gas and steam to get nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is removed and ammonia is created via the introduction of an electric current into the process.
As South American fertilizers were nearly exhausted, the advent of this new technology initiated a paradigm shift in agriculture - this at a time in which world fossil fuel resources were largely untapped and seemingly limitless.
The demands of wartime fermented advancements, efficiencies and new venues for the Haber-Bosch process, fulminating into the manufacture of poison gases and explosives.
Pre-1941: The USA had 1 ammonia explosives plant.
Post-1945: 10 ammonia explosives plants with no demand.