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Bunsen, Robert (Wilhelm)

  • 1 Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm

    SUBJECT AREA: Chemical technology
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    b. 31 March 1811 Göttingen, Germany
    d. 16 August 1899 Heidelberg, Germany
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    German chemist, pioneer of chemical spectroscopy.
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    Bunsen's father was Librarian and Professor of Linguistics at Göttingen University and Bunsen himself studied chemistry there. Obtaining his doctorate at the age of only 19, he travelled widely, meeting some of the leading chemists of the day and visiting many engineering works. On his return he held various academic posts, finally as Professor of Chemistry at Heidelberg in 1852, a post he held until his retirement in 1889.
    During 1837–41 Bunsen studied a series of compounds shown to contain the cacodyl (CH3)2As-group or radical. The elucidation of the structure of these compounds gave support to the radical theory in organic chemistry and earned him fame, but it also cost him the sight of an eye and other ill effects resulting from these dangerous and evil-smelling substances. With the chemist Gustav Robert Kirchhoff (1824–87), Bunsen pioneered the use of spectroscopy in chemical analysis from 1859, and with its aid he discovered the elements caesium and rubidium. He developed the Bunsen cell, a zinc-carbon primary cell, with which he isolated a number of alkali and other metals by electrodeposition from solution or electrolysis of fused chlorides.
    Bunsen's main work was in chemical analysis, in the course of which he devised some important laboratory equipment, such as a filter pump. The celebrated Bunsen gas burner was probably devised by his technician Peter Desdega. During 1838–44 Bunsen applied his methods of gas analysis to the study of the gases produced by blast furnaces for the production of cast iron. He demonstrated that no less than 80 per cent of the heat was lost during smelting, and that valuable gaseous by-products, such as ammonia, were also lost. Lyon Playfair in England was working along similar lines, and in 1848 the two men issued a paper, "On the gases evolved from iron furnaces", to draw attention to these drawbacks.
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    Bibliography
    1904, Bunsen's collected papers were published in 3 vols, Leipzig.
    Further Reading
    G.Lockemann, 1949, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen: Lebensbild eines deutschen Forschers, Stuttgart.
    T.Curtin, 1961, biog. account, in E.Farber (ed.), Great Chemists, New York, pp. 575–81. Henry E.Roscoe, 1900, "Bunsen memorial lecture, 29th March 1900", Journal of the
    Chemical Society 77:511–54.
    LRD

    Biographical history of technology > Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm

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  • Bunsen,Robert Wilhelm — Bun·sen (bŭnʹsən), Robert Wilhelm. 1811 1899. German chemist who pioneered in spectrum analysis and codiscovered the elements cesium and rubidium. He introduced the Bunsen burner in 1855. * * * …   Universalium

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  • Robert Wilhelm Bunsen — noun German chemist who with Kirchhoff pioneered spectrum analysis but is remembered mainly for his invention of the Bunsen burner (1811 1899) • Syn: ↑Bunsen, ↑Robert Bunsen • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

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