Wallach, Otto

Wallach, Otto,

1847–1931, German chemist, Ph.D. Univ. of Göttingen, 1869. Wallach was a professor at the Univ. of Bonn from 1870 to 1889 and at the Univ. of Göttingen from 1889 to 1915. In 1910 he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in the field of alicyclic compounds. Wallach investigated and characterized a large number of essential oils called terpenes, successfully distinguishing among very similar compounds from a variety of plants. His work made a significant contribution to the chemical industry, providing the foundation for new methods of analysis and manufacturing.

Wallach, Otto


Born March 27, 1847, in Königsberg; died Feb. 26, 1931, in Göttingen. German organic chemist.

Wallach graduated from the University of Göttingen in 1869. He was a privatdocent at the University of Bonn from 1873, a professor there from 1876, and then a professor at the University of Göttingen from 1889 to 1915. One of the pioneers of terpene chemistry, he began work in that field in 1884, guided by the idea that many natural terpenes consist of a mixture of monotypic hydrocarbons which cannot be separated by fractional distillation. By combining natural terpenes with various reagents (HCl, HBr, N203, N204, NOCl), Wallach obtained terpene addition compounds which crystallized easily and could therefore be separated. Wallach discovered and studied a series of terpene compounds (including limonene, phellandrene, terpineol, fenchone, methylheptanone, and terpinolene). He also demonstrated in 1891 the genetic link between terpenes and isoprene. He discovered the reaction of the reductive animation of aldehydes and ketones by primary and secondary amines and formic acid. Wallach was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1910.


Die Terpene und Campher. Leipzig, 1909.


Bodenstein, M. “O. Wallach.” Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft, 1931, vol. 64A, no. 37.


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