Menshutkin, Nikolai

Menshutkin, Nikolai Aleksandrovich


Born Oct. 12 (24), 1842, in St. Petersburg; died there Jan. 23 (Feb. 5), 1907. Russian chemist.

Menshutkin graduated from the University of St. Petersburg in 1862 and was a professor there from 1869 to 1902. From 1902 to 1907 he was a professor at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. His works were primarily concerned with investigating the rate of chemical transformations of organic compounds. While studying the decomposition of tertiary amyl acetate upon heating, Menshutkin observed (1882) that one of the reaction products (acetic acid) accelerates the process; this is a classic example of auto-catalysis. He also discovered the effect produced by a solvent on the rate of a chemical reaction (1887-90), as well as the effect of dilution and chemical structure on the rate of chemical interaction. He was awarded the Lomonosov Prize in 1904 for his work on chemical kinetics.

Menshutkin published a number of books, including Analytical Chemistry (1871; 16th ed., 1931) and Lectures in Organic Chemistry (1884; 4th ed., 1901). His “Essay on the Development of Chemical Concepts” (1888) was the first original work on the history of chemistry to be published in Russia. One of the founders of the Russian Chemical Society, he was editor of the society’s Zhurnal from 1869 to 1900. He also supervised the construction and equipping of the chemical laboratories at the University of St. Petersburg (1890-94) and at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute (1901-02).


Menshutkin, B. N. Zhizn*ideiateVnost’’Nikolaia Aleksandrovicha Menshutkina. St. Petersburg, 1908. (Contains a list of works by Menshutkin.)
Starosel’skii, P. I., and lu. I. Solov’ev. Nikolai Aleksandrovich Menshutkin, 1842-1907. Moscow, 1969.