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Mond, Ludwig

MOND, LUDWIG

(b. Kassel, Germany, 7 March 1839; d. London, England, 11 December 1909)

industrial chemistry.

Mond is remembered for three contributions to the chemical industry: the establishment of the ammonia soda process in England; the development of an efficient power gas plant; and the discovery of nickel carbonyl, which led to a new process for extracting nickel from its ores.

Born into a wealthy and cultured Jewish family, Mond began his chemical education in 1855 under Kolbe at Marburg; from 1856 to 1859 he worked with Bunsen at Heidelberg. The next eight years were spent in acquiring experience in chemical manufacturing, especially of soda, ammonia, and acetic acid, in Germany, England, and Holland. In 1867 he settled in Widnes, one of the centers of the Leblanc soda trade in England.

Many unsuccessful attempts had been made to develop a simpler alternative to the Leblanc process by treating salt solutions with ammonia and carbon dioxide. By 1865 Ernest Solvay in Belgium had brought the process to some measure of efficiency, and a meeting between Mond and Solvay led to Mond’s acquisition in 1872 of a license to use the process in England. Seven years of unceasing effort (during which time he often slept at the plant) enabled Mond to solve the chemical engineering problems posed by the handling of large volumes of liquids and gases, and by 1880 the success of the venture was assured. The corporation of Brunner and Mond (1881) was the first real threat to the survival of the Leblanc soda trade.

The search for a cheap source of ammonia for his soda works led Mond to examine ways of obtaining ammonia from coal. He devised in 1889 a system that burned coal in gas producers using a mixture of air and steam. In addition to ammonia the system yielded a cheap gas suitable for most industrial heating purposes. To promote its local use, the South Staffordshire Mond Gas Company was formed, and to develop the process overseas Mond founded the Power Gas Corporation.

From 1884 Mond and his assistant Carl Langer were concerned with recovering chlorine from waste ammonium chloride by distilling over heated metal oxides. Nickel valves in the plant became corroded, although this did not happen in the laboratory apparatus. Carbon monoxide in the kiln gases used to sweep ammonia out of the plant proved to be the reason. Experiments showed that nickel combined with carbon monoxide under gentle heat to form nickel carbonyl Ni(CO)4, which on thermal decomposition yielded pure nickel. Mond’s fast industrial enterprise was the creation in 1900 of the Mond Nickel Company to link mines in Canada with extraction works in Wales.

Mond believed that the study of pure science is the best preparation for a career in industry. He used his great wealth wisely; particularly notable gifts were the Davy-Faraday Laboratory at the Royal Institution and financial support to the Royal Society for the Catalogue of Scientific Papers. He also bequeathed his collection of Italian paintings to his adopted country.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Seventeen papers are listed in the Royal Society Catalogue of Scientific Papers, XVII, 318. The developments outlined in the text were all described by Mond in their historical setting. For ammonia-soda see “On the Origin of the Ammonia-soda Process,” in Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 4 (1885), 527–529; on power gas, “The Commercial Production of Ammonium Salts,” ibid., 8 (1889), 505–510; on nickel carbonyl and nickel extraction, “On Nickel Carbon Oxide and Its Application in Arts and Manufactures,” in Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1891), 602–607; and “The History of the Process of Nickel Extraction,” in Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 14 (1895), 945–946. There is also a valuable historical survey of chlorine manufacture in Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1896), 734–745.

II. Secondary Literature. The most useful obituary is in Journal of the Chemical Society, 113 (1918), 318–334. Not well known but very valuable is F. G. Donnan’s published lecture to the (Royal) Institute of Chemistry, Ludwig Mond F.R.S., 1839–1909 (London, 1939). More general is J. M. Cohen, Life of Ludwig Mond (London, 1956).

W. A. Campbell

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Mond, Ludwig

Ludwig Mond, 1839–1909, chemist; father of Alfred Moritz Mond, 1st Baron Melchett. He was born in Germany and became a naturalized British subject. Mond experimented with alkalies and also developed a producer gas known by his name. He was cofounder and director of Brunner-Mond (1872), which became the world's largest producer of alkalies. Another outstanding discovery of his 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.

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Mond process

Mond process: see under Mond, Ludwig.

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