Urea, an organic compound in the body that is formed from ammonia in the kidney and liver, is produced by the breakdown of protein during tissue metabolism. In 1773, H.M. Rouelle discovered urea in urine. German chemist Friedrich Wöhler was the first to artificially produce the organic substance from inorganic materials. This week in 1828, Wöhler wrote to J.J. Berzelius, “I can make urea without the use of kidneys, either man or dog. Ammonium cyanate is urea!” Urea is used to produce pharmaceuticals, resins and fertilizers. Farmers perform urea tests to determine the protein levels of dairy cows.
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