Eugene Melchior Peligot discovered the methyl radical while experimenting with methanol

Eugene Melchior Peligot – isolated uranium metal

Article on Eugene Melchior Peligot

Biography & contributions


Eugene Melchior Peligot was a French chemist born on February 24, 1811 – died on April 13, 1890. Peligot was worked on sugars and their reactions, chromium, uranium, iron, and their salts, the composition and structure of glass, the silkworm, fertilizers, and drinking water.


He was the first to prepare uranium, study its properties and determine its atomic mass. Together with Dumas isolated methyl alcohol from wood spirit, studied its reactions, and introduced the term methylene in chemistry. Peligot discovered potassium trioxochloro chromate (Peligot’s salt) and its especial properties. Peligot's salt is also named after him. He showed that glass must be composed of a mixture of silicates in indefinite proportions to avoid its crystallization. He obtained dichroic glass by addition of uranium oxide.


Peligot described the preparation and properties of a new chromium compound resulting from the combination of a KCl with chromic acid or by treating potassium dichromate with an excess of HCl.


In 1844 Peligot reported on new method for the preparation of certain metals in a very pure state. The procedure was based on the reduction of the protochloride by dry pure hydrogen and thus yielded the metal free of the carbon traces usually present in samples prepared by other methods.


He had found that solutions of ferrous salts absorbed nitrogen dioxide and took a brown color.


Peligot established definitely that glucose is the sweet material contained in the urine of diabetics. He made known the transient material formed by glucose and levulose with alkalis and also the organic acids generated by the rapid destruction of these alkaline compounds.


He first researches in organic chemistry were on the distillation of calcium benzoate and its reactions. Peligot also discovered the methyl radical with Jean-Baptiste Dumas while experimenting with methanol.


Peligot's salt


Peligot's salt’s chemical name is Potassium trioxochlorochromate. Peligot's salt is the potassium salt of chlorochromic acid (chromic acid where chlorine has replaced one of the OH groups). Peligot's salt can be considered intermediate between chromic acid and chromyl chloride. It is stable in air but in water, where it is soluble, it can become hydrolyzed. When under high temperature, Peligot's salt parts with its chlorine and produces chromic oxide.


Facts about uranium


Uranium is a very heavy metal which can be used as an abundant source of concentrated energy. Uranium occurs in most rocks in concentrations of 2 to 4 parts per million and is as common in the Earth's crust as tin, tungsten and molybdenum. Uranium occurs in seawater, and can be recovered from the oceans.


Uranium was discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth, a German chemist, in the mineral called pitchblende. It was named after the planet Uranus, which had been discovered eight years earlier. Uranium was apparently formed in supernovas about 6.6 billion years ago.


Uranium ore can be mined by underground or open-cut methods, depending on its depth. Uranium may also be mined by in situ leaching (ISL), where it is dissolved from a porous underground ore body in situ and pumped to the surface. Uranium metal reacts with almost all non-metal elements and their compounds, with reactivity increasing with temperature.


Uranium is used as a colorant in uranium glass, producing orange-red to lemon yellow hues. It was also used for tinting and shading in early photography.


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