Robert Bunsen German chemist developed several gas-analytical methods

Robert Bunsen – developer of Bunsen burner

Article on Robert Bunsen

Biography & Contributions

Robert Bunsen [Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen] was a German chemist born on March 30, 1811 – died on August 16, 1899. Bunsen was notable for his invention of the improved gas flame device called Bunsen burner.

Bunsen investigated emission spectra of heated elements, and discovered caesium element and rubidium element. Bunsen developed several gas-analytical methods, was a pioneer in photochemistry, and did early work in the field of organoarsenic chemistry. His discovery of the use of iron oxide hydrate as a precipitating agent is still today the most effective antidote against arsenic poisoning. Bunsen created the Bunsen cell battery, using a carbon electrode instead of the expensive platinum electrode used in William Robert Grove's electrochemical cell.

In late 1852 Bunsen University of Heidelberg he used electrolysis to produce pure metals, such as chromium, magnesium, aluminum, manganese, sodium, barium, calcium and lithium. In collaboration with Henry Enfield Roscoe, he began studying the photochemical formation of hydrogen chloride from hydrogen and chlorine.

In 1841 he invented the carbon-zinc electric cell which is known by his name, and which conducted him to several important achievements. He first employed it to produce the electric arc, and showed that from 44 cells a light equal to 1171.3 candles could be obtained with the consumption of one pound of zinc per hour.

In 1852 he began to carry out electrolytical decompositions by the aid of the battery. Other appliances invented by him were the ice calorimeter in the year of 1870, the vapor calorimeter in the year of 1887, and the filter pump in the year of 1868, which was worked out in the course of a research on the separation of the platinum metals.

Caesium Element

Caesium is a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal and chemical properties similar to those of rubidium and potassium. Caesium forms alloys with the other alkali metals, as well as with gold, and amalgams with mercury. It is stored and shipped in dry saturated hydrocarbons, such as mineral oil. Caesium metal is one of the most reactive elements and is highly explosive when it comes in contact with water.

Caesium-based atomic clocks observe electromagnetic transitions in the hyperfine structure of caesium-133 atoms and use it as a reference point. Caesium clocks are also used in networks that oversee the timing of cell phone transmissions and the information flow on the Internet. Caesium vapor thermionic generators are low-power devices that convert heat energy to electrical energy. Caesium is also important for its photoemissive properties by which light energy is converted to electron flow. It is used in photoelectric cells because caesium-based cathodes, such as the intermetallic compound K 2CsSb, have low threshold voltage for emission of electrons.

Bunsen Burner

Bunsen burner is a common piece of laboratory equipment that produces a single open gas flame, which is used for heating, sterilization, and combustion. The device in use today safely burns a continuous stream of a flammable gas such as natural gas or a liquefied petroleum gas such as propane, butane, or a mixture of both. The hose barb is connected to a gas nozzle on the laboratory bench with rubber tubing. The gas then flows up through the base through a small hole at the bottom of the barrel and is directed upward. There are open slots in the side of the tube bottom to admit air into the stream via the venturi effect, and the gas burns at the top of the tube once ignited by a flame or spark.

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