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Ludwig Mond

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Ludwig Mond (1839-1909), chemist, was born on 7 March, at Kassel, Germany, son of a Jewish merchant.

He was educated at first in school then at the polytechnic in Kassel, before going to university at Marburg. He then spent his life in industrial work, firstly in factories in Germany and the Netherlands.

1862 He moved to England to John Hutchinson and Co in Widnes, to promote a process for recovering sulphur from the waste products of the Leblanc soda process, the use of which was centred on Widnes.

From 1864 to 1867, he extended his experience in Utrecht.

In 1866, he married his cousin Frida Löwenthal and they had two sons, Robert Ludwig and Alfred Moritz.

Mond experimented with alkalis and also developed a means of converting solid fuel into producer gas.

1872 he met Ernest Solvay, a Belgian chemist who was perfecting the ammonia-soda process. Mond purchased rights to the process and entered partnership with John Tomlinson Brunner, a friend from his Hutchinson days, to set up a Solvay process factory at Widnes.

1872 They founded Brunner, Mond and Co, which became the world's largest producer of alkalis.

Another outstanding discovery of Mond's was nickel carbonyl, a gas formed from carbon monoxide and metallic nickel. Mond developed a valuable method known as the Mond process for extracting nickel from its ores by use of this carbonyl. In the process, carbon monoxide passing over the crushed and smelted ore containing nickel produces the volatile nickel carbonyl; this is decomposed to yield metallic nickel.

1900 The Mond Nickel Co was registered on 30 September, to carry on the business of mining and smelting nickel and copper ores and of refining them by the patent process of Dr. Ludwig Mond, with freehold and leasehold nickel and copper mines in Ontario, Canada, and a freehold property of about 33 acres at Clydach, near Swansea, where the refining works were situated. [1]

1908 Ludwig Mond died at his home in Cheshire on 11 December.

Both his sons, Robert Ludwig Mond and Alfred Moritz Mond, and his grandson, Henry Ludwig Mond were involved in the Mond Nickel Co.


1909 Obituary [2]

LUDWIG MOND died at his residence, near Regent's Park, on the morning of Saturday, December 11, at the age of seventy, having been born on March 7, 1839, at Cassel, in Germany. He was educated at the Polytechnic School of his native town, and, subsequently, studied chemistry at Marburg and at Heidelberg. At the latter university he was under the tuition of the celebrated Bunsen. He early evinced considerable inventive talent, one of the first processes which he devised having been a method for the recovery of the sulphur lost in the black ash waste of the Leblanc soda process.

At the age of twenty-three he came to England, where he was appointed chemist at the works of Messrs. Hutchinson & Earle, of Widnes, but two years later he returned to the Continent, where he was engaged in the installation of a soda process factory on the Leblanc system at Utrecht. In 1867 he came back to England, and henceforward identified himself with this country, which became his permanent home.

The turning point in Dr. Mond's career was the friendship formed as far back as 1862 with Sir John Brunner, at that time Mr. J. T. Brunner, with whom, ten years later, he entered into partnership for the purpose of carrying on the manufacture of chemicals. An estate having been purchased in the vicinity of the Cheshire salt deposits, the partners commenced the manufacture of alkali by the Solvay process, which had attracted the attention of Dr. Mond during a visit to the Continent in 1872, and the earlier difficulties having been skilfully overcome, and success attained in minor details, the problem of the recovery of the ammonia employed as a reagent in the ammonia soda process was attacked and solved.

Another of the discoveries due to Dr. Mond at about this time was that of means for the recovery of the chlorine lost in the form of calcium chloride, and this process, taken in conjunction with the other, firmly established the success of the Solvay method as a competitor with the Leblanc process for the production of chloride of lime. The most important work achieved by Dr. Mond was, however, the invention of Mond gas, and its application for industrial purposes. His investigations on the employment of cheap bituminous fuel, which culminated in this discovery, were the outcome of many years' work. The ultimate success of Mond gas for power purposes led to the installation of large works in South Staffordshire for the conversion of the cheap fuel obtainable in the district.

To his attainments as a mechanical engineer, Dr. Mond added those of a metallurgist of distinction, his chief work in this direction being the discovery of a process for the extraction of nickel from its ore. In conjunction with Carl Lange and Friedrich Quincke, he elucidated the chemistry of carbonyl compounds by the isolation of nickel carbonyl, and subsequently of other metals. By means of this compound it was found possible to devise a process for the production of metallic nickel at comparatively low temperatures, with the result that the economic difficulties frequently experienced in the manufacture of nickel on a commercial scale were greatly reduced. The result of preliminary experiments carried out at Smethwick led to the development of the process now carried out so successfully by the Mond Nickel Company at Swansea.

Dr. Mond's many attainments naturally secured for their possessor numerous distinctions. The King of Italy conferred upon him the Grand Cordon of the Crown of Italy, and he had received honorary degrees in the Universities of Padua, Heidelberg, Victoria, and Oxford. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1891, and was also a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry and of the Chemical Society. To these institutions he presented numerous scientific contributions, while his benefactions to the Royal Society enabled it to publish the International Catalogue of Scientific Papers. His generosity in the cause of scientific advancement prompted him to endow a laboratory for research in pure unapplied science, which was formally opened in 1869 as the David Faraday Laboratory, under the control and management of the Royal Institution. In 1889 he was elected President of the Society of Chemical Industry, and at the Meeting of the British Association at Liverpool of 1896 he was elected President of the Chemical Section. He had also been appointed President of the Chemical Society for the present year, but the state of his health precluded his serving in that capacity. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1895.


Obituary 1909 [3]

. . . the distinguished scientist and industrial chemist. Dr. Mond was born in 1839 at Cassel, in Germany, . . . as the inventor of Mond gas that Dr. Mond will be chiefly remembered by engineers. . . much more


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. 1909 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  3. The Engineer 1909/12/17
  • Archives of the British chemical industry, 1750-1914: a handlist. By Peter J. T. Morris and Colin A. Russell. Edited by John Graham Smith. 1988.