Glauber, Johann Rudolf

SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 1604 Karlstadt, Germany
d. March 1670 Amsterdam, Holland
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German chemist and metallurgist.
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The son of a barber, Glauber took up the study of alchemy and travelled widely in search of its secrets. Around 1639, the political uncertainties of the Thirty Years War persuaded him to leave Germany for a more settled life in Amsterdam. While there, he carried out most of the practical work for which he is famous, including his distillation furnace, which made it possible to reach higher temperatures and to heat substances in a variety of conditions. To earn a living he set up in the wine trade, but he continued his alchemical pursuits, under cover on account of the unpopularity of the would-be gold makers. After the end of the war, he returned to Germany, but in 1655 personal disputes and religious friction drove him back to Amsterdam. He set about constructing the largest and most elaborate chemical laboratory in Europe.
Glauber's best-known writing, the Furni novi philosophici (1646–9) gives the clearest idea of his practical methods and was influential on some of the leading chemists of the time and later. His name survives today in Glauber's salt for hydrated sodium sulphate. Glauber described several methods for preparing the mineral acids, materials of great importance to the chemist, and obtained the concentrated acids by using his distilling furnace. He tried distilling any substance he could lay hands on, and in the course of this work became probably the first chemist to distil coal and, using hydrochloric acid, obtain benzene and phenol. Glauber was the best practical chemist of the age and the first industrial chemist.
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Bibliography
1646–9, Furni novi philosophici
Further Reading
K.F.Gugel, 1955, Johann Rudolf Glauber (1604–1670), Leben und Werke, Würzburg (the fullest account of his life; with a bibliography).
P.Walden, 1929, "Glauber", in Das Buch der grossen Chemiker, ed. G.Bugge, Berlin, pp. 151–72 (the best account of Glauber's practical methods).
E.Farber, 1961, Great Chemists, New York, pp. 115–31 (an abridged translation of ibid.).
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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