Karl Wilhelm Scheele(redirected from Carl Wilhelm Scheele)
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Scheele, Karl Wilhelm
Born Dec. 9,1742, in Stralsund; died May 21, 1786, in Köping. Swedish chemist. Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1775).
Trained as a pharmacist, Scheele worked in apothecary shops in various Swedish cities, where he also carried out chemical research beginning in 1757. He discovered many inorganic and organic substances. He showed (1774) that pyrolusite, a naturally occurring manganese dioxide considered to be a variety of magnetic iron ore, is a compound of an unknown metal. He obtained chlorine by the action of hydrochloric acid on pyrolusite during heating (1774) and glycerin by the action of lead oxide on plant oils and animal fats. From natural molybdenite and tungsten minerals (scheelite) he obtained the corresponding molybdic (1778) and tungstic (1781) anhydrides. He discovered silicon tetra-fluoride (1771), barium oxide (1774), hydrogen arsenide (1775), and a number of acids, including tartaric acid (1769), fluosilicic and hydrofluoric acids (1771), arsenic acid (1775), and oxalic (1776), lactic (1780), and prussic (1782) acids. He discovered (1777; at the same time as F. Fontana) the ability of freshly roasted charcoal to absorb gases.
In the work Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire, Scheele described the preparation and properties of “fire air” and showed that atmospheric air is composed of two “types of air”: “fire air” (oxygen) and “phlogisticated air” (nitrogen). However, J. Priestley is credited with the discovery of oxygen (1774), since Scheele’s work was not published until 1777.
WORKSManuskript 1756–1777. Edited by C. W. Ossen. [Uppsala, 1942.]
Chemische Abhandlung von der Luft und der Feuer. Leipzig, 1894.
Nachgelassene Briefe und Aufzeichnungen. Edited by A. E. Nordenskiöld. Stockholm, 1892. (Contains a biographical sketch and bibliography of Scheele’s works.)