Carl Axel Arrhenius

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Lt. Carl Axel Arrhenius (1757–1824) was a Swedish chemist and student of Jöns Jakob Berzelius. He is most widely known as the discoverer of a mineral which turned out to contain several new chemical elements among the rare earth elements.

Arrhenius was born in Stockholm. He was interested in mineralogy and chemistry after he met Peter Jacob Hjelm at the Swedish Royal Mint laboratory. Arrhenius was a lieutenant at the Svea artilleriregemente stationed in Vaxholm; he took part in the campaign in Finland in 1788. He was promoted to Feldzeugmeister and Lieutenant-Colonel at the Svea artilleriregemente and was handed the command in 1816 of the manufacture of powder in the kingdom. His chemistry studies started at the Royal Mint's (Kungliga Myntet) laboratory, where he studied the characteristics of powder as an artillery officer. During his visit to Paris in 1787–88 he met Antoine Lavoisier, "the father of modern chemistry", and upon his return to Sweden became an ardent defender of the revolutionary teachings in chemistry promoted by Antoine Lavoisier.

During his time in Vaxholm he also visited the feldspar mine in Ytterby on the island of Resarön near Vaxholm. He found a dark mineral which he named ytterbite and sent to Johan Gadolin at the University of Åbo for further analysis. This permitted the discovery of four new elements: Yttrium, Terbium, Erbium and Ytterbium.

Arrhenius was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences from 1799 and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 1817.

Not to be confused with Svante Arrhenius.

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