Letnii, Aleksandr

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Letnii, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich


Born Dec. 13 (25), 1848, in St. Petersburg; died May 3 (15), 1883, in Tbilisi. Russian chemical technologist.

Letnii graduated from the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology in 1871. He then worked there as a laboratory technician and later as an assistant (until 1879). In 1875 he discovered that the bottom products of heavy petroleum undergo partial decomposition to lighter products (for example, gasoline, kerosene, gases) at temperatures above 300°C. This discovery constituted the basis of the development of the cracking process. In 1877, Letnii first isolated aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum (benzene, toluene, xylene, anthracene) and established important regularities involved in the pyrolysis of petroleum. After 1879 special plants for the production of some petroleum products were constructed under the direction of and in accordance with the designs of Letnii.


Piotrovskii, K. B. “A. A. Letnii: K 75-letiiu otkrytiia piroliza nefti.” Uspekhi khimii, 1952, vol. 21, issue 12.
Lisichkin, S. M. Vydaiushchiesia deiateli otechestvennoi neftianoi nauki i tekhniki. Moscow, 1967. Pages 109–22.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.