Johann Goldschmidt developed alumino-thermics, invented Goldschmidt reaction process

Johann (Hans) Goldschmidt – inventor of Goldschmidt reaction

Article on Johann Goldschmidt

Biography & Contributions

Johann (Hans) Goldschmidt was a German chemist born on January 18, 1861 – died on May 21, 1923. He invented Goldschmidt reaction or Goldschmidt process

He is principally noted as the co-inventor of sodium amalgam and the initial patent holder of the thermite reaction.

Goldschmidt was originally interested in producing very pure metals by avoiding the use of carbon in smelting, but he soon realized the value in welding, a process known as thermic welding. It is also used in incendiary devices. This process is sometimes called the "Goldschmidt reaction" or "Goldschmidt process", because he furthered its development and patented it in 1895.

He is inextricably linked with the development of alumino-thermics. The so-called thermite process originally developed by him for the preparation of carbon-free metals became the standard method for welding railroad and streetcar rails. It is still used worldwide today and its quality is regarded as second to none.

Sodium Amalgam

Sodium amalgam commonly is an alloy of mercury and sodium. It is often used in reactions as strong reducing agents with better handling properties compared to solid sodium. Sodium amalgam is a by-product of chlorine manufactured by mercury cell electrolysis. In this cell, brine is electrolyzed between a liquid mercury cathode and a titanium or graphite anode. Sodium amalgam may be prepared in the laboratory by dissolving sodium metal in mercury or the reverse. It can be purchased from chemical supply houses.

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