Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Théophile-Jules Pelouze

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 11
Théophile-Jules Pelouze

by Thomas O'Conor Sloane


Scientist, b. at Valognes, La Manche, 26 Feb., 1807; d. in Paris, 31 May or 1 June, 1867. He began his career as a pharmacist, studying at La Fère. In 1827 he went to Paris and became an assistant to Gay Lussac and Lessaigne. At this period he also occupied a position in the hospital of La Salpêtrière, but resigned to get back to his researches. In 1830 he was a professor in the University of Lille; in 1833 assayer to the Mint, and on the staff of the Polytechnic School in Paris; and later was engaged in the Collège de France, holding the title of professor there until 1851. In 1836 he visited Germany and was associated in his work in organic chemistry with Liebig. In 1837 he succeeded Deyeux as a member of the Academy of Sciences of France. In 1848 he was made president of the Mint Commission, and in 1849 became a member of the Municipal Commission at Paris. He resigned his public positions in 1852.

His work with Liebig included investigations on oenanthic ether, tannic acid, stearin, sugar, etc., and with Frémy, Cahours, and Gélis, on a series on vegetable acids, including mallic and gallic acids, and on petroleum and butyric fermentation. He was the first to synthesize a fatty substance from glycerine and an acid; to isolate tannic acid; to identify beet-root and cane-sugar as being the same; and to make gun-cotton or nitrocellulose in France. Other work by him was devoted to analytical chemistry and the determination of the atomic weights of several of the elements. Discovering a new class of salts (nitro-sulphates) he based thereon a new analytical method for the determination of copper. In 1850 as consulting chemist of the St. Gobain glass works he introduced sodium sulphate as a constituent in glass-making, producing artificial aventurine with chromium as a basis, studying the effect of sunlight on coloured glass, and working on enamels. Many of his papers have been published in the "Annales de Chimie et de Physique" and in the "Comptes Rendus". He published several works: "Traité de Chimie Générale, analytique, Industrielle et agricole" (3 vols., Paris, 1847), in collaboration with Frémy; "Abrégé de Chimie" (Paris, 1848); "Notions générales de Chimie" (Paris, 1853). According to his friend, the Abbé Moigno, he died an edifying Christian death.

POGGENDORFF, Biographisch-Literarisches Handwötertuch zu Geschichte der exacten Wissenschaften (Leipzig, 1863); FIGUIER, L'Année Scientifique (XII Année), Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l' Académieé des Sciences, LXIV (Paris, 1867).

T. O'CONOR SLOANE