Nametkin, Sergey Semenovich

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(b. Kazan, Russia, 3 July 1876; d. Moscow, U.S.S.R., 5 August 1950)


Nametkin’s parents died when he was ten; he graduated from a Gymnasium in Moscow, earning his living as a private tutor. From 1896 to 1902 he studied and then taught at Moscow University. From 1910 he was assistant professor and, from 1911, when he was awarded his M.Sc., professor of organic chemistry at the Higher Women’s Courses, which in 1917 became the Second Moscow University (of which he was rector from 1919 to 1924), and then the Moscow Institute of Fine Chemical Technology. In 1938 he returned to Moscow University, where he was head of the organic chemistry department until 1950. From 1927 to 1950 he was professor of organic chemistry and petrochemistry in the petroleum department of the Moscow Mining Academy; the department was reorganized as the Moscow Petroleum Institute.

In 1917 Nametkin was awarded the degree of D.Sc.; from 1932 he was a corresponding member, and from 1939 a member, of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. From 1939 to 1950 he was director of the Institute of Fossil Fuels, and then of the Petroleum Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, which was created from the former.

Nametkin’s scientific work concentrated on the nitration of saturated hydrocarbons, the chemistry of terpenes, stereochemistry, the chemistry and technol- ogy of petroleum, and the synthesis of growth stimulators and perfumes.

Having examined in his thesis the effect of dilute nitric acid on monocyclic and bicyclic hydrocarbons, Nametkin developed a logical scheme of the resulting transformations: if hydrogen at a tertiary carbon atom reacts, then a tertiary nitric compound is immediately formed; in other cases intermediate isonitroso compounds are formed, which subsequently either isomerize into stable nitric compounds or are de- composed into nitrous oxide and a ketone or an aldehyde. The latter is easily oxidized into carboxylic acid.

Nametkin’s many investigations in the chemistry of terpenes, particularly the study of the hydration of α-methylcamphene with the formation of 4- methylisoborneol, led him to an important gener- alization—the discovery of the camphene rearrange- ment of the second type; this has been called the Nametkin rearrangement and has led to the clarifi- cation of phenomena in the chemistry of camphor and camphene that were not explained by the Wagner-Meerwein rearrangement.

Nametkin studied the composition of petroleum and natural gases of the Soviet Union; investigated the chemical nature of petroleum paraffins and ceresins; showed the presence in them of a significant quantity of hydrocarbons with branched structure; discovered a new type of transformation of ethylene hydrocarbons—the hydro-dehydropolymerization re- action—as a result of which hydrogenated lower- polymers and highly unsaturated higher-polymers are formed in the presence of acid catalysts; showed that thiophanes constitute a significant part of the sulfur compounds of petroleum; conducted systematic research on the desulfurization of shale gasolines and on the chemistry of the cracking process with simul- taneous partial oxidation, developed a method for the analysis of cracking gasolines. Nametkin published more than 300 works on organic and petroleum chemistry.


I. Original Works. Many of Nametkin’s writings were brought together in Izbrannye trudy (“Selected Works” Moscow—Leningrad, 1949); and almost all are in Sobranie trudov (“Collected Works”), 3 vols. (Moscow-Leningrad, 1954–1956), with a sketch of his life and works and a bibliography in vol. I. Among his works are K voprosu o deystvii azotnoy kisloty na uglevodorody predelnogo kharaktera (“On the Action of Nitric Acid on Saturated Hydrocarbons” Moscow, 1911), his master’s thesis;

Issledovania iz oblasti bitsiklicheskikh soedineny (“Research on Bicyclic Compounds” Moscow, 1916), his doctoral thesis; and Khimia nefti (“The Chemistry of Petroleum” Moscow—Leningrad, 1955).

II. Secondary Literature. See V. M. Rodionov, A. K. Ruzhentseva, A. S. Nekrasov, and N. N. Melnikov, “Akademik Sergey Semenovich Nametkin,”in Zhurnal obshchey khimii, 21 (1951), 2101–2146; P. I. Sanin, “Sergey Semenovich Nametkin (k devyanostoletiyu so dnya rozhdenia)”(“Sergey Semenovich Nametikin [on the Ninetieth Anniversary of His Birth]”), in Neftekhimia, 6 (1966), 649–658; Sergey Semenovich Nametkin, in the series Materialy k bibliografii uchenykh SSSR (“Material for a Bibliography of Scientists of the U.S.S.R.” Moscow- Leningrad, 1946); A. V. Topchiev, S. R. Sergienko, and P. I. Sanin, “Trudy vydayushchegosya sovetskogo uchenogo S. S. Nametkina v oblasti khimicheskoy nauki i neftyanoy promyshlennosti”(“Works of the Distinguished Soviet Scientist S. S. Nametkin in Chemistry and the Petroleum Industry”), in Izvestia Akademii nauk SSSR, Otd. tekhn. nauk (1951), no. 1, 3–21; and G. D. Vovchenko and A. F. Platé, “Akademik Sergey Semenovich Nametkin (k godovshchine so dnya smerti)”(“Academician S. S. Nametkin [on the Anniversary of His Death]”), in Vestnik Moskovskogo … universiteta (1951), no. 10, 89–94.

A. PlatÉ