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Kolbe, (Adolf Wilhelm) Hermann

synthesis organic acid electrolysis

[kol buh] (1818–84) German organic chemist: developed useful routes in organic synthesis.

Kolbe was the eldest of the 15 children of a Lutheran pastor. He studied chemistry under , and with L Playfair (1819–98) in London. He succeeded Bunsen at Marburg in 1851 and moved to Leipzig in 1865. He was an inspiring teacher and a talented researcher, despite holding firmly to outdated theories (mainly and his intemperate criticism of newer ideas (he vigorously abused structure theory, for example).

His many successes in synthesis include the Kolbe reaction, in which a hydrocarbon is made by electrolysis of an alkali metal salt of an organic acid (this was the first use of electrolysis in organic synthesis)For example:

Also named after him is the Kolbe or Kolbe–Schmitt reaction, in which an alkali metal phenoxide is heated with carbon dioxide under pressure; a carboxyl group enters the ring and the product is a phenolic acid; eg a synthesis of salicyclic acid:

Kolmogorov, Andrei Nikolaievich [next] [back] Kocher, Emil Theodor

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