Louis-Jacques Thenard discovered Thenard’s blue - WorldOfChemicals

Louis-Jacques Thenard – discoverer of hydrogen peroxide

Louis-Jacques Thenard

Biography & contributions

Louis-Jacques Thenard was a French chemist born May 04, 1777 – died on June 21, 1857. Thenard is the discoverer of hydrogen peroxide.

His first original paper (1799) was on the compounds of arsenic and antimony with oxygen and sulphur. In 1807, he began important research into ethers. His researches on sebacic acid (1802) and on bile (1807) deserve mention as well, as does his discovery of hydrogen peroxide (1818). In 1799 he developed the pigment known as Thenard's blue in response to a request by Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal for a cheap colouring matter.

In the year 1818, hydrogen peroxide was first produced by Louis Jacques Thenard. He reacted barium peroxide with nitric acid and came up with an improved version of the process by using hydrochloric acid. This was followed by the addition of some sulphuric acid to precipitate the by-product barium sulfate that was produced. Finally, in the year 1894, one hundred percent pure hydrogen peroxide was first obtained through vacuum distillation by Richard Wolffenstein. At the end of the 19th century, Petre Melikishvili and his pupil L. Pizarjevski again showed that of the many proposed formulas of hydrogen peroxide, the correct one was H-O-O-H. It was later found that the use of H2O2 sterilization in biological safety cabinets and barrier isolators was a popular alternative to ethylene oxide (EtO). It was a safer, more efficient decontamination method. Since then, H2O2 has been widely used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound and it is the simplest peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizer and is used as a bleaching agent and disinfectant. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide or 'high-test peroxide' is a reactive oxygen species and has been used as a propellant in rocketry. Its melting point is also fairly high, being comparable to that of hydrazine and water, with the only hydroxylamine crystallizing significantly more readily, indicative of particularly strong hydrogen bonding.

Hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid, forming hydroperoxide or peroxide salts with many metals. It also converts metal oxides into the corresponding peroxides. Hydrogen peroxide is also one of the two chief chemicals in the defense system of the bombardier beetle, reacting with hydroquinone to discourage predators. Hydrogen peroxide has important roles as a signaling molecule in the regulation of a wide variety of biological processes. It is used in the production of various organic peroxides with dibenzoyl peroxide being a high volume example.

Hydrogen peroxide is used in polymerizations, as a flour bleaching agent and as a treatment for acne. Hydrogen peroxide is seen as an environmentally safe alternative to chlorine-based bleaches, as it degrades to form oxygen and water. It can be used for the disinfection of various surfaces.

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