Erik Christian Clemmensen

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Erik Christian Clemmensen (1876 - May 21, 1941) was a Danish-American chemist.

Clemmensen was born in Odense, Denmark. Clemmensen studied at Polytechnical University in Copenhagen. He emigrated to the United States in 1900 and worked in the pharmaceutical industry. For the invention of the Clemmensen reduction, he received his Ph.D. in 1913 from the University of Copenhagen.

Erik Christian Clemmensen [1] was born in Denmark in 1876 and left school at the age of 15. He signed up to join an expedition on a warship, with the aim of becoming a naval officer, but illness prevented them from achieving this goal. Instead he enrolled to study plant engineering at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark and graduated in 1900 and emigrated to the US shortly afterwards. There, he joined the pharmaceutical company Parke, Davis & Co. in Detroit, MI.

In 1914, he co-founded the Commonwealth Chemical Corporation in Newark, NJ, where he developed methods for the manufacture of sodium benzoate, vanillin, and coumarin. After a fire in 1929, the company was acquired by Monsanto Chemical Company and moved to St. Louis, MO. While working for Monsanto, Clemmensen helped develop the synthesis of the artificial sweetener saccharin. In 1935, he returned to New York and founded a chemical company named after him.

Clemmensen died suddenly in 1941 and is best known for the reaction that they developed while at Parke, Davis & Co. This reaction involves the reduction of ketones using a zinc amalgam and HCl. It has been employed in the preparation of polycyclic aromatics and aromatics containing linear hydrocarbon side chains, the latter not being obtainable from a Friedel-Crafts alkylation.[2]

  1. ^ http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/ezine/4810821/Guess_the_Chemist_18.html
  2. ^ Author: ChemViews, Published Date: 04 June 2013. Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA