Nikodem Caro, Chemist and entrepreneur

Co-founder of SKW


Co-inventor of calcium cyanamide synthesis and first president of Bayerische Stickstoff-Werke AG (BStW) in Trostberg, one of the predecessors of Süddeutsche Kalkstickstoffwerke, SKW for short.


SKW

* 1871, Lodz

† 1935, Rome

Nikodem Caro came from a well-known Jewish family residing in Poland and Upper Silesia. After graduating from high school at the age of 17, he went to study in Berlin. He completed his studies in 1891, graduating as a chemist from the (Berlin-) Charlottenburg Technical College. Just a year later he gained his doctorate at Rostock University. These activities brought Caro into contact with Prof. Adolph Frank, with whom he primarily carried out research into the production of cyanides, in addition to experiments on gas hydration and the gasification of peat. The process he developed for producing cyanic compounds from carbides was patented on March 31, 1895. This calcium cyanamide synthesis became known as the Frank-Caro patent, while the end product of the synthesis was known as (calcium) cyanamide.

With a view to economical exploitation and further research into cyanamide, Caro established the Cyanidgesellschaft mbH in partnership with Adolph Frank, Dr. Fritz Rothe, Deutsche Bank, Siemens & Halske and the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt vormals Roessler.

In 1901 Albert Frank, son of Adolph Frank, and Dr. Hermann Freudenberg proposed calcium cyanamide as a fertilizer under the name Kalkstickstoff [lime-nitrogen]. The Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt relinquished its holding in the Cyanidgesellschaft the same year and in 1908 the Bayerische Stickstoff-Werke AG (BStW) was founded in Munich to produce calcium cyanamide at the Trostberg site. It was owned by the Cyanidgesellschaft and Nikodem Caro was its first president. The Bayerische Stickstoff-Werke merged in Süddeutsche Kalkstickstoffwerke AG in 1939, renamed SKW Trostberg AG in 1978.

Nikodem Caro not only gave his name to the Caro-Werk, the hydroelectric station III of the future SKW built near Hirten in 1924, but was also an honorary citizen of a total of 18 Bavarian municipalities, Bulgarian Consul General and honorary senator of several universities. After the National Socialists seized power, Caro left Germany in 1933, emigrated through Switzerland to Italy and died in Rome in 1935.