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Paul SabatierPaul Sabatier

Nobel Prize winner

Paul Sabatier was born at Carcassonne, in Southern France, on November 5, 1854. He was educated at the local Lycée and then prepared at Toulouse for the entrance examinations to the École Polytechnique and the École Normale Supérieure. He was accepted for both and chose the latter, from which he graduated first in his class in 1877. He taught physics for a year in a local school at Nîmes before going to the Collège de France. He received his Doctor of Science degree from there in 1880. After a year at Bordeaux, he moved to the University of Toulouse in 1882, where he remained until 1930. In addition to his research and teaching during this period, Sabatier was instrumental in the creation of schools of chemistry, agriculture, and electrial engineering at Toulouse. He died on August 14, 1941.

His Research

Sabatier's researches in catalytic organic synthesis, and particularly his discovery of the catalytic activity of finely divided nickel in hydrogenation-dehydrogenation reactions, won for him half the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1912. The following year, he summed up his fifteen years of work on catalysis and reviewed the accumulating literature in the field in the book La Catalyse en chimie organique. Although his pioneer work was basic to the development of important industrial processes such as the catalytic cracking of petroleum to increase the yield of gasoline and the hydrogenation of vegetable oils to make shortening, Sabatier did not interest himself in such practical applications, nor did he profit from them.

Honors and Awards

Made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1907, and named Commander in 1922.

Elected the first member of the Academy of Sciences who did not reside in Paris, 1912.

Received the Davy Medal from the Royal Society in 1915, and the Franklin Medal from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in 1933.

Received honorary doctoral degrees from the universities of Pennsylvania, Louvain, and Saragossa.

Nobel Prize for Chemistry

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This page was last updated on 12/14/2014.

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