Claude Louis Berthollet

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Berthollet, Claude Louis


Born Dec. 9, 1748, in Talloires, Savoy; died Nov. 6,1822, in Paris. French chemist; founder of the study of chemical equilibrium. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1785). Professor of chemistry at the Normal and Polytechnic schools in Paris (1794).

Having received the degree of doctor of medicine in Turin in 1770, Berthollet began to work in pharmacies; in 1772 he moved to Paris. In 1785 he was the first chemist to associate himself with the antiphlogiston views of A. Lavoisier. Together with Lavoisier and other scientists, Berthollet participated in the development of a new chemical nomenclature (1786–87) and in the founding (1789) of the journal Annales de chimie, which still exists.

During the Great French Revolution, Berthollet took an active part in organizing the production of saltpeter, steel, and other materials needed for the republic’s defense. In 1798–99 he participated in Bonaparte’s Egyptian expedition. In 1807, Berthollet founded a scientific society whose members included P. S. Laplace, A. Humboldt, J. B. Biot, D. F. Arago, and J. L. Gay-Lussac.

Particularly significant in Berthollet’s experimental work was his procedure for bleaching linen, wax, and paper with chlorine (1785) and the discovery, associated with this, of hypochlorite, chlorate, and Berthollet salt. Berthollet established that the direction of chemical reactions is determined by mass and the properties of the reacting substances and the conditions of the reaction. Proceeding from a view of the chemical reaction as a continuous and reversible process, Berthollet felt that the composition of the compounds formed during the process should change continuously, that is, should be variable. The French chemist J. L. Proust opposed this conclusion; he showed that the substances cited by Berthollet as examples of compounds of variable composition were in actuality mixtures and not chemical units. The controversy between Berthollet and Proust (1801–08) ended with the establishment of the law of definite proportions, which strengthened the position of the atomic theory in chemistry and concentrated the efforts of scientists on obtaining and investigating compounds of constant composition. At the start of the 20th century, N. S. Kurnakov discovered the existence of the chemically individual substances of variable composition foreseen by Berthollet. He named them berthollides in memory of Berthollet. This discovery resolved the contradiction between the seemingly incompatible views of Berthollet and Proust.


Recherches sur les lois de l’affinité. Paris, 1801.
Essai de statique chimique, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1803.


Kurnakov, N. S. Izbrannye trudy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960.
Starosel’skaia-Nikitina, O. Ocherkipo istorii nauki i tekhniki perioda frantsuzskoi revoliutsii 1789–1794. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Cuvier, G. Recueil des éloges historiques, vol. 3. Paris, 1827. Page 177.
Lemay, P., and R. E. Oesper. “Claude Louis Berthollet. “Journal of Chemical Education, 1946, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 158–65 and no. 5, pp. 230–36.
Crosland, M. C. The Society of Arcueil. London, 1967.


References in periodicals archive ?
Dalton and Berthollet are named, and there are clear allusions to Dalton's work on the nature of mixed gases in chapter three, 'Force and Understanding', PG, GWix, pp.
Berthollet said the forest road where the bodies were found is "often used by walkers".
Berthollet 1796 Arte del blanqueo por medio del acido muriatico oxigenado y descripcion y usos de un instrumento de prueba para el acido muriatico oxigenado, anil y oxido de manganeso.
These omissions are largely remedied in the remaining chapters, where the following additional scientists are mentioned: Dr Nooth (for his apparatus), Pelletier, Bergman, Keir, Monnet, Lewis, Sage, Watson (Llandaff), Gengembre, Rouelle, Le Roy, Bindheim, Beccaria (indirectly), Berthollet, Cavendish, Margraaf and De Morveau.
Los publicistas resumieron el discurso del Vice-Presidente del Senado, Berthollet, que manifesto la indignacion que le causaba al Senado la conspiracion recien descubierta (cuyos agentes habian sido pagados por Inglaterra), lamentaba hallar entre los culpables a "uno de los mas ilustres defensores de la Francia" (el general Moreau, el glorioso vencedor de Hohenlinden), y concluyo "manifestando el deseo que tenia el Senado de que el primer Consul no se diese tan enteramente a los negocios publicos, que descuidase de su seguridad personal, que era la de la patria" (16).
His irrefutable results led to the "law of mass and element conservation" in all chemical reactions and to a new nomenclature that he conceived with de Morveau, de Fourcroy, and Berthollet, following the Linnaeus binomial system, and which Coquette (1793b) published in Mercurio Peruano.
Monge, along with chemist Claude-Louis Berthollet and Gen.
Their patron, Berthollet, unfortunately persuaded them to alter their remarks to make this not more than a possibility .
Their scientific name is Bertholletia excelsa - after the 18th century French chemist Claude-Louis Berthollet.
Along with Denon, Bonaparte also repatriated Claude-Louis Berthollet, Gaspard Monge, and five generals, leaving the embittered and unfortunate Kleber in command, with notice that he expected the rest of Commission to leave Egypt during the following November.
Aqui conocio a investigadores como Gay Lussac, Berthollet y otros; con Arago tuvo larga amistad.
information supplied by Berthollet who wrote from Paris.