Max Bodenstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Max Bodenstein
Max Bodenstein.jpg
Max Bodenstein
Born Max Ernst August Bodenstein
(1871-07-15)July 15, 1871
Magdeburg, Germany
Died September 3, 1942(1942-09-03) (aged 71)
Berlin, Germany
Residence Germany
Nationality German
Institutions University of Leipzig,
Humboldt University of Berlin,
University of Hanover
Alma mater University of Heidelberg
Doctoral advisor Victor Meyer
Known for Bodenstein-number”, a special type of Peclet number

Max Ernst August Bodenstein (born July 15, 1871 in Magdeburg - died September 3, 1942 in Berlin) was a German physical chemist known for his work in chemical kinetics. He was first to postulate a chain reaction mechanism and that explosions are branched chain reactions, later applied to the atomic bomb.


He received his PhD with the theme: "Zersetzung des Jodwasserstoffes in der Hitze" (Degradation of hydrogen iodide in hot temperature) with Victor Meyer at the University of Heidelberg.

He also studied decomposition of hydrohalic acids and their formation. Furthermore Bodenstein studied catalysis in flowing systems and discovered diffusion controlled catalytic reactions and photochemical reactions with Karl Liebermann at the Technical University of Berlin and with Walther Nernst at the University of Göttingen. After having returned to the University of Heidelberg in the year 1899 he habilitated with the theme: "Gasreaktionen in der chemischen Kinetik" (Reaction of Gas in the chemical kinetics).

---His technique was to mix hydrogen and iodine in a sealed tube, which he placed in a thermostat and held at a constant high temperature. The reaction eventually reached an equilibrium, at which the rate of formation of hydrogen iodide was equal to the rate of decomposition to the original reaction: H2 + I2 ≡ 2HI

The equilibrium mixture of H2, Iodine, and HI was frozen by rapid cooling, and the amount of hydrogen iodide present could be analyzed. Using different amounts of initial reactants, Bodenstein could vary the amounts present at equilibrium and verify the law of chemical equilibrium proposed in 1863 by Cato Maximilian Guldberg and Peter Waage.(Oxford dictionary of scientists) Bodenstein could modify the amounts that arose in the balance, verifying the law of the chemical equilibrium, propose law by Cato Guldberg and Peter Waage in 1863 .

Bodenstein also investigated in photochemistry, being first in demonstrating that, in the reaction of Hydrogen with Chlorine, the high performance could explain by means of one Chain reaction.

Victor Henri wrote in 1902: "M. Bodenstein to whom I owe much valuable advice",[1] in particular on the kinetic description of the invertase enzyme. Thus, Bodenstein contributed to early research in enzyme kinetics. According to Henri and a later paper by Bodenstein himself,[2] in 1901 or 1902, he suggested the enzyme-kinetic rate law v = V S / (mS + nP). Henri corrected this into v = V S / (1 + mS + nP) (both written in modern notation; S, substrate concentration, P, product concentration).

---A brief timeline of Bodensteins educational years. 1899 habilitation; thesis: Gasreaktionen in der chemischen Kinetik

1900 Lecturer at Leipzig University at the physicochemical institute of Wilhelm Ostwald, since 1904 Titularprofessor

1906 extraordinary professor in Berlin at the physicochemical institute of Walther Nernst

1908 ordinary professor TH Hannover (electrochemistry, since 1911 also physical chemistry)

1923 ordinary professor University of Berlin (physical chemistry, successor of W. Nernst)---

In 1904 he was firstly appointed as honorary professor at the physicochemical institute from Wilhelm Ostwald at the University of Leipzig before furthermore in 1906 he was called to become associate professor at the University of Berlin and senior manager of the physicochemical institute of Walther Nernst. In 1908 he decided to change to the University of Hanover where he was appointed professor in ordinary and director of the electrochemical institute. Finally in 1923 he went back to Berlin where he accepted to be director of the physicochemical institute after the retirement of Walther Nernst.

Max Bodenstein was also co-operator with the "German Atomgewichts-Kommission" (German Commission of Atomic Weights), co-editor of the journal "Physikalische Chemie" (Physical chemistry) and since 1924 ordinary member in the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

He died in Berlin. His tomb is at the cemetery Berlin-Nikolassee. A tablet commemorating Bodenstein and Walther Nernst was placed in 1983.[3] ---In addition,a link to an extensive family tree that shows the history of his personal relationships.


In 1936 he was awarded the "August Wilhelm von Hofmann votive medal" from the "German Chemical Society". Furthermore he became honorary doctor of science of the University of Princeton and Dr.-Ing. E.h. (honorary doctor of engineering).

Special case and literature[edit]

The Bodenstein number, a special type of Peclet number that is often used to describe axial mixing in so-called axial-dispersion models, is named after him.


  1. ^ Henri, V. (1902) Théorie générale de l’action de quelques diastases, C. R. Hebd. Seances Acad. Sci. 135, 916–919.
  2. ^ Bodenstein, M. (1909) Reaktionsgeschwindigkeit und Katalyse im Jahre 1908, Z. Elektrochem. 15, 329–397.
  3. ^ Image of commemorative tablet
  4. ^ works in library of Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften[1]
  5. ^ Works in Wiley Interscience[2]

External links[edit]