Runge, Friedlieb Ferdinand

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(b. Billwärder, near Hamburg, Germany, 8 February 1794; d. Oranienburg, Germany, 25 March 1867)


At the age of fifteen Runge was apprenticed to an apothecary in Lübeck. He studied medicine at Berlin and then at Göttingen, and took his medical degree at the University of Jena in 1819. His dissertation dealt with the physiological action of the belladonna alkaloids. Runge then returned to the University of Berlin, where he received his doctorate in chemistry in 1822. After three years of travel across Europe, visiting chemical factories and laboratories, Runge became Privatdozent at the University of Breslau. In 1828 he was appointed extraordinary professor of technical chemistry.

In 1831 Runge moved to Berlin and was offered a position as a chemist in a chemical factory at Oranienburg owned by the Royal Maritime Society. In this industrial laboratory he carried out his important study of synthetic dyes. Through the distillation of coal tar and subsequent extraction of the fractions, Runge isolated and named carbolic acid (phenol), leucol (a mixture of quinoline, isoquinoline, and quinaldine), pyrrol, and cyanol (aniline). He also produced aniline black from cyanol, noted its value as a dye, and obtained a patent in 1834.

A pioneer in the use of paper chromatography, Runge published two books in 1850 explaining this technique of analysis: volume III of Farbenchemie and Zur Farbenchemie: Musterbilder für Freunde des Schdöen…. The latter contained a collection of chromatograms showing concentric zones of different substances present in a solution that had radiated from the spot of application. After retiring from the chemical firm in 1852, Runge worked as a consultant until his death.


I. Original Works. Lists of Range’s works are in G. Kränzlein, “Zum 100-jährigen Gedächtnis der Arbeiten von F. F. Runge” (see below): and Royal Society Catalogue of Scientific Papers, V, 336–337; VIII , 799; XII , 640. Among his papers is “Ueber einige Produckte der Steinkohlendestillation,” in Annalen der Physik, 31 (1834), 65–77, 513–524; and 32 (1834), 308–332. His major books include Farbenchemie, 3 vols. (Berlin, 1834–1850); Einleitung in die technische Chemie ,fürJedermann (Berlin, 1836); Zur Farbenchemie: Musterbilder für Freunde des Schönen und zum Gebrauch für Zeichner, Maler, Verziehrer und Zeugdrucker (Munich, 1850); and Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe (Oranienburg. 1855).

II. Secondary Literature. For more information on Runge, see Berthold Anft, F. F. Runge, sein Leben und sein Werk (Berlin, 1937); and “Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge: A Forgotten Chemist of the Nineteenth Century,” in Journal of Chemical Education, 32 (1955), 566–574: and G. Kränzlein. “Zum 100-jährigen Gedächtnis der Arbeiten von F. F. Runge,” in Angewandte Chemie. 48 (1935). 1–3.

Daniel P. Jones