Paul Sabatier (chemist)

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Paul Sabatier
Paul Sabatier.jpg
Paul Sabatier
Born(1854-11-05)5 November 1854
Carcassonne, France
Died14 August 1941(1941-08-14) (aged 86)
Toulouse, France
Alma mater Collège de France
École Normale Supérieure
Known for Heterogeneous catalysis
Awards Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1912)
Davy Medal (1915)
Albert Medal (1926)
Franklin Medal (1933)
Scientific career
Fields Inorganic chemistry
Institutions Collège de France
University of Bordeaux
University of Toulouse
Doctoral advisor Marcellin Berthelot [ citation needed ]

Prof Paul Sabatier FRS(For) [1] HFRSE (French:  [sabatje] ; 5 November 1854 14 August 1941) was a French chemist, born in Carcassonne. In 1912, Sabatier was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Victor Grignard. Sabatier was honoured for his work improving the hydrogenation of organic species in the presence of metals.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

French people are a Romance-speaking ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.

Chemist Scientist trained in the study of chemistry

A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.



Sabatier studied at the École Normale Supérieure, starting in 1874. Three years later, he graduated at the top of his class. [2] In 1880, he was awarded a Doctor of Science degree from the College de France. [2]

An école normale supérieure or ENS is a type of publicly funded higher education institution in France. A portion of the student body, admitted via a highly-selective competitive examination process, are French civil servants and are known as normaliens. ENSes also offers master's degrees, and can be compared to "Institutes for Advanced Studies". They constitute the top level of research-training education in the French university system.

Doctor of Science, usually abbreviated Sc.D., D.Sc., S.D., or D.S., is an academic research degree awarded in a number of countries throughout the world. In some countries, "Doctor of Science" is the title used for the standard doctorate in the sciences; elsewhere the Sc.D. is a "higher doctorate" awarded in recognition of a substantial and sustained contribution to scientific knowledge beyond that required for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). It may also be awarded as an honorary degree.

Collège de France Higher education and research establishment

The Collège de France, founded in 1530, is a higher education and research establishment in France. It is located in Paris, in the 5th arrondissement, or Latin Quarter, across the street from the historical campus of La Sorbonne.

In 1883 Sabatier succeeded Édouard Filhol at the Faculty of Science, and began a long collaboration with Jean-Baptiste Senderens, so close that it was impossible to distinguish the work of either man. They jointly published 34 notes in the Accounts of the Academy of Science, 11 memoirs in the Bulletin of the French Chemical Society and 2 joint memoirs to the Annals of Chemistry and Physics. [3] The methanation reactions of COx were first discovered by Sabatier and Senderens in 1902. [4] Sabatier and Senderen shared the Academy of Science's Jecker Prize in 1905 for their discovery of the Sabatier–Senderens Process. [3]

Édouard Filhol French chemist

Jean Pierre Bernard Édouard Filhol was a French scientist.

Jean-Baptiste Senderens French chemist

Jean-Baptiste Senderens was a French priest and chemist. He was one of the pioneers of catalytic chemistry, and a co-discoverer of catalytic hydrogenation, a process used commercially to make margarine.

Methanation is the conversion of COx to methane CH4 through hydrogenation. The methanation reactions of COx were first discovered by Sabatier and Senderens in 1902.

After 1905–06 Senderens and Sabatier published few joint works, perhaps due to the classic problem of recognition of the merit of contributions to joint work. [3] Sabatier taught science classes most of his life before he became Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Toulouse in 1905.

University of Toulouse Former french university in Toulouse existing from 1896 to 1969

The University of Toulouse is a university in France that was established by papal bull in 1229, making it one of the earliest universities to emerge in Europe. Since the closing of the university in 1793 due to the French Revolution, the University of Toulouse no longer exists as a single institution. However, there have been several independent "successor" universities inheriting the name.


Sabatier's earliest research concerned the thermochemistry of sulfur and metallic sulfates, the subject for the thesis leading to his doctorate. In Toulouse, he continued his physical and chemical investigations to sulfides, chlorides, chromates and copper compounds. He also studied the oxides of nitrogen and nitrosodisulfonic acid and its salts and carried out fundamental research on partition coefficients and absorption spectra. Sabatier greatly facilitated the industrial use of hydrogenation. In 1897, building on the recent biochemical work of the American chemist, James Boyce, he discovered that the introduction of a trace amount of nickel (as a catalyst) facilitated the addition of hydrogen to molecules of most carbon compounds.

Thermochemistry study of the heat energy associated with chemical reactions and/or physical transformations

Thermochemistry is the study of the heat energy associated with chemical reactions and/or physical transformations. A reaction may release or absorb energy, and a phase change may do the same, such as in melting and boiling. Thermochemistry focuses on these energy changes, particularly on the system's energy exchange with its surroundings. Thermochemistry is useful in predicting reactant and product quantities throughout the course of a given reaction. In combination with entropy determinations, it is also used to predict whether a reaction is spontaneous or non-spontaneous, favorable or unfavorable.

Sulfur Chemical element with atomic number 16

Sulfur (in British English, sulphur) is a chemical element with the symbol S and atomic number 16. It is abundant, multivalent, and nonmetallic. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with a chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow, crystalline solid at room temperature.

Sulfate Anion

The sulfate or sulphate ion is a polyatomic anion with the empirical formula SO2−
. Sulfate is the spelling recommended by IUPAC, but sulphate is used in British English. Salts, acid derivatives, and peroxides of sulfate are widely used in industry. Sulfates occur widely in everyday life. Sulfates are salts of sulfuric acid and many are prepared from that acid.

The reduction of carbon dioxide using hydrogen at high temperature and pressure is another use of nickel catalyst to produce methane. This is called the Sabatier reaction and is used in the International Space Station to produce the necessary water without relying on stock from the earth. [5]

Carbon dioxide Chemical compound

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410 ppm) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations, but at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.

Hydrogen Chemical element with atomic number 1

Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. With a standard atomic weight of 1.008, hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe, constituting roughly 75% of all baryonic mass. Non-remnant stars are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. The most common isotope of hydrogen, termed protium, has one proton and no neutrons.

Methane Simplest organic molecule with one carbon atom and four hydrogen

Methane (or ) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4 (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane, and is the main constituent of natural gas. The relative abundance of methane on Earth makes it an attractive fuel, although capturing and storing it poses challenges due to its gaseous state under normal conditions for temperature and pressure.

H = −165.0 kJ/mol
(some initial energy/heat is required to start the reaction)

Sabatier is best known for the Sabatier process and his works such as La Catalyse en Chimie Organique (Catalysis in organic chemistry) which was published in 1913. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with fellow Frenchman Victor Grignard in 1912. [2] He is also known for the Sabatier principle of catalysis.

Personal life

Sabatier's office desk and collection of chemicals at the University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier Office Toulouse 2012.jpg
Sabatier's office desk and collection of chemicals at the University of Toulouse

Sabatier was married with four daughters, one of whom wed the famous Italian chemist Emilio Pomilio. [2]

The Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse is named in honour of Paul Sabatier. Paul Sabatier was a co-founder of the Annales de la Faculté des Sciences de Toulouse, together with the mathematician Thomas Joannes Stieltjes.

See also

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  1. Rideal, E. K. (1942). "Paul Sabatier. 1859-1941". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society . 4 (11): 63–66. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1942.0006.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Paul Sabatier - Biography". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  3. 1 2 3 Alcouffe 2006, p. 10.
  4. Rönsch et al. 2016.
  5. Administrator, NASA Content (2015-08-17). "The Sabatier System: Producing Water on the Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 2018-09-06.