organic chemist who discovered ethylamine, the first organic derivative of
ammonia, 1849 and ethylene glycol (1,2-ethanediol) 1856.|
Wurtz was born in Wolfisheim, near Strasbourg, and studied at Strasbourg. In 1844 he moved to Paris and worked at the Sorbonne, where he became professor 1874. He also held public office as mayor of the Seventh Arrondissement of Paris and as a senator.
Wurtz initially worked on the oxides and oxyacids of phosphorus; in 1846 he discovered phosphorus oxychloride (POCl3). He later turned to organic chemistry.
In 1855, Wurtz discovered a method of producing paraffin hydrocarbons (alkanes) using alkyl halides (haloalkanes) and sodium in ether. The method was named the Wurtz reaction.
Wurtz discovered aldol (3-hydroxybutanal) while investigating the polymerization of acetaldehyde (ethanal), devised a method of making esters from alkyl halides, and in 1867, with German chemist Friedrich Kekulé, synthesized phenol from benzene.