Lunge, Georg

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Lunge, Georg

(b. Breslau, Prussia [now Wroclaw, Poland], 15 September 1839; d. Zurich, Switzerland, 3 January 1923)

chemistry, chemical technology.

Lunge was the son of a merchant. At the age of seventeen he graduated at the head of his class from a Gymnasium in Breslau. Subsequently, at the University of Breslau, he studied the natural scienc especially chemistry, and in 1859 obtained his doc torate magna cum laude with a dissertation entitled De fermematione alcohoica. He first studied under Lowig and Cohn, then with Bunsen and Kirchhorff at Heidelberg. In 1860 Lunge joined the chemical industry, initially as a chemist at a Silesian fertilizer factory. In 1862 he opened his own plant for the production of potassium ferrocyanide, ammonia, lead salts, and tartaric acid: but the venture was unsuccessful.

Lunge then went to England, where he first worked in a factory producing coal-tar products. In 1865 he joined the newly founded, small alkali works of Baily, Bowron & Co., in South Shields, first as chemist and subsequently as manager. Lunge married a Miss Bowron, daughter of one of his employers. He participated in the founding and activities of the Newcastle Chemical Society; established contacts with representatives of science and industry; and established a line reputation as a specialist in chemical technology. On the recommendation of Heinrich Caro, Lunge was invited in 1875 to become professor of technical chemistry at the Eidgenossische Polytech-nikum Schule in Zurich. Subsequently he was granted Swiss citizenship. He resigned his teaching post atZurich in 1907 but continued to write and do laboratory work until 1916. He retired at the age of seventy-seven.

At a time when most chemists worked in organic chemistry, Lunge was among the few who chose inorganic chemistry as a field of concentration. He was eminently pragmatic; Haber said of him that he had awakened spirits and conquered problems in applied science which previously had been dealt with only by technicians. Lunge worked toward the control of manufacturing processes by means of refined technical-chemical investigations and analyses and by the quantitative analysis of synthetic compounds. His vast technical knowledge based on practical experience made him a master in applying scientific results to economic-technical problems.

Lunge published an enormous number of papers. A bibliography he compiled himself—although not complete— lists eighty-six books and pamphlets as well as 590 articles. Practitioners acclaim Lunge’s works as particularly dependable, detailed, precise, and practical, the general approach being coupled with the explanation of the scientific principles involved. Lunge’s Handbuch der Sodaindustrie, his Steinkohlenteer and Anttnoniak, and his Chemischtechnische Untersuchungsmethoden (written with Ernst Berl) were for decades considered standard works for the chemical raw-materials industry.

Experimental work by Lunge and by many of his pupils treated all problems of chemical manufacturing, especially that of soda, sulfuric acid, chlorine, and chloride of lime, nitric acid, phosphates, coal-tar products, explosives, cellulose, and synthetic fibers. It resulted in several inventions, such as Lunge’s plate towers (which used countercurrents) for the acid industry and Heumann’s synthesis of indigo.

Lunge also personally directed a large chemical laboratory—in addition to his lecturing—in which students learned to test raw materials and to supervise manufacturing processes. The newly constructed chemical laboratory complex (built in 1883 in association with Victor Meyer) became the model for chemical-technical research and teaching facilities.


I. Original Works. Lunge’s writings include Handbuch der Sodaindustrie and ihrer Nebenzweige für Theorie und Praxis, 2 vols. (Brunswick, 1879; 3rd ed., 3 vols., 1903-1909); Theoretical and Practical Treatise on the Manufacture of Sulfuric Acid and Alkali, 3 vols. (London, 1879-1880; 3rd ed., 2 vols, in 4 pts., 1903-1911; supp, to vol. I, London, 1917); Die Industrie der Steinkohlenteer- Best illation und Ammoniakwasser-Verarbeitung (Brunswick, 1882), also translated into English (London, 1882; 5th ed., 1912); Die chemischen Laboratorien des Eidgends-sischen Polyteehnlkums (Zurich, 1889); Chemisch-technische Untersuchangsntethoden, 3 vols. (Berlin, 1899-1900; 6th ed., 4 vols., 1910-1911; 8th ed., 5 vols., 1931-1934), also translated into English by C. A. Keane and others, 3 vols. in 5 pts. (London, 1908-1914), written with Berl; Zur Geschichte der Entstchung und Entwickhmg der cliemischen Industrien in der Schweiz (Zurich, 1901); and Das Zusammenwirken von Chemie und Tngenieurwesen in der Technik (Vienna, 1907).

II. Secondary Literature. See E. Bosshard, “Georg Lunge 1839-1923,” in Verhandlungen der Schweizerischen naturforschenden Gesellschaft,104, pt. 2 (1923), “Anhang, Nekrologe und Biographien,” 25-43, with a bibliography; and “Georg Lunge,” in Günther Bugge, ed,, Das Bitch der grossen Chentiker II (Weinheim, 1965); and Poggendorff, III, 843-844; IV, 926-927, VI, pt. 2, 1591.

Eberhard Schmauderer