Nikolai Beketov

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Beketov, Nikolai Nikolaevich


Born Jan. 1 (13), 1827, in Novaia Beketovka, Penza Province; died Nov. 30 (Dec. 13), 1911, in St. Petersburg. Russian physical chemist; academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1886).

Beketov graduated from the University of Kazan in 1849 and worked with N. N. Zinin. From 1855 he was a chemistry assistant and from 1859 to 1887 professor at the University of Kharkov. In 1865 he defended his doctoral dissertation, “Studies on the Phenomena of Displacement of Certain Metals by Others.” In 1886 he moved to St. Petersburg, where he worked in the chemical laboratory of the academy and taught advanced courses for women. In 1890 he taught a lecture course at the University of Moscow entitled “Basic Principles of Thermochemistry.” Beketov discovered the displacement of metals from solutions of their salts by hydrogen under pressure and established the fact that magnesium and zinc displace other metals from their salts at high temperatures. During the years 1859–65 he showed that at high temperatures aluminum reduces metals from their oxides; later these experiments served as the starting point for the emergence of aluminothermy.

Beketov’s great contribution was the development of physical chemistry as an independent scientific and educational discipline. As far back as 1860 he gave a lecture course in Kharkov entitled “The Relationship of Physical and Chemical Phenomena to Each Other” and in 1865 a course entitled “Physical Chemistry.” In 1864 at Beketov’s suggestion a division of physical chemistry was instituted at the University of Kharkov, in which, in addition to lectures, practical work in physical chemistry was introduced and research in physicochemistry was conducted. A. P. El’tekov, F. M. Flavitskii, and others were students of Beketov.


V pamiat’ 50-letiia uchenoi deiatel’nosti Nikolaia Nikolaevicha Beketova. Kharkov, 1904. (A number of Beketov’s works and a list of his works.)
Rechi khimika, 1862–1903. St. Petersburg, 1908.


Turchenko, la. I. Nikolai Nikolaevich Beketov. Moscow, 1954.
Iz istorii otechestvennoi khimii: Rol’ uchenykh Khar’kovskogo un-ta v razvitii khimicheskoi nauki. Kharkov, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.