Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Rudolph Messel

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Rudolph Messel (1848–1920), industrial chemist

1848 Born on 14 January 1848 in Darmstadt, son of Simon Messel, banker and his wife, Amelia.

He attended the federal polytechnic in Zürich, then studied in Heidelberg, and finally received a DSc studying chemistry in Tübingen.

Messel experimented with the use of platinum as a contact catalyst for the production of sulphuric acid by oxidation of sulphur dioxide.

1870 he went to Manchester and became assistant first to Frederick Grace Calvert (1819–1873) and then to Henry Roscoe (1833–1915).

1870 Messel was recalled to Germany at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. He served as a stretcher-bearer in the army and was wounded. After his recovery he returned to England.

Messel became assistant to William Stevens Squire (1834–1906) of Dunn, Squire and Co

Shortly afterwards, Squire formed the company Squire, Chapman and Co., and took Messel with him.

Messel developed a process for the manufacture of fuming sulphuric acid, in great demand as a raw material in the dyestuffs industry. The process was patented by William Squire in 1875.

1878 Messel succeeded Squire as managing director of the firm which became Chapman and Messel Ltd. He lived in the works at Silvertown

1881 founder member of the Society of Chemical Industry

1907 Naturalized British.

1912 elected FRS.

1915 He resigned his position as MD because of ill health and moved into London.

1920 Died in London

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Rudolph Messel, ODNB