Wurtz, Charles Adolphe

Wurtz, Charles Adolphe shärl ädôlfˈ vürts [key], 1817–84, French chemist. He was professor at the Sorbonne (1852–75), at the Faculty of Medicine, Paris (1853–75), and at the Faculty of Sciences, Paris (from 1875). Noted for his research in organic chemistry, he discovered methyl and ethyl amines (1849), glycol (1856), and aldol condensation (1872). He developed (1855) a method of synthesizing hydrocarbons by treating alkyl halides with sodium (Wurtz reaction) that was adapted by the German chemist Rudolf Fittig to the preparation of mixed aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons (Wurtz-Fittig reaction). Wurtz also invented a bulbed fractionating column known as the Wurtz column. He wrote influential works in support of the atomic theory and on medical and biological chemistry and the noted Dictionaire de chimie pure et appliquée (3 vol., 1868–78; supplement, 1880–86).

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