Enrique Moles Ormella

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Enrique Moles Ormella
Spanish chemist Enrique Moles (1883-1953).jpg
Born (1883-08-26)26 August 1883
Vila de Gràcia, Barcelona
Died 30 March 1953(1953-03-30) (aged 69)
Nationality Spanish
Alma mater Complutense University of Madrid
University of Geneva
Known for Determination of atomic weights
Awards Grand Officer Order of the Spanish Republic (1933)
Legion of Honour (1936)
Lavoisier Medal (1937)
Scientific career
Fields Physical chemistry
Signature of Enrique Moles (1927).png

Enrique Moles Ormella (26 August 1883 – 30 March 1953) was a Spanish pharmacist, physicist, and chemist, most notable for his work on atomic weights of the elements. Enrique Moles is considered as one of the foremost Spanish chemists of his time.[1]


Early life[edit]

Enrique Moles was born on 26 August 1883 in Vila de Gràcia near Barcelona to Pedro Moles Alrich and Maria Ormella Figuerola, both of which died while he was still infant.[2][n 1]


Moles obtained the bachelor's degree from Colegio Iberico in Barcelona, and in 1900 he entered to study pharmacy at the Complutense University of Madrid. In 1906 he obtained the Doctor of Pharmacy. In 1909 Moles went to study in the University of Munich and in 1910 he attended the University of Leipzig to work on determination of atomic weights under Dr. K. Drucker. In 1916, Moles studied with Prof. Philippe A. Guye at the University of Geneva to establish the atomic weight of bromine, and he received the degree Doctor of Physics from the University of Geneva that year. In 1920, after combining all previous studies of chemistry (in Munich, Leipzig, and Zurich), Moles qualified for the third doctoral degree, Doctor of Chemistry. The title of his chemistry doctoral thesis was “Physico-chemical revision of the atomic weight of fluorine: contribution to the chemistry of this element”, and he formally received the degree from the University of Madrid only in 1926.[n 2]


Moles represented Spain in the 2nd General Conference of IUPAC (1921) and later served as the vice-president of IUPAC from 1934-1938.[3] In 1949, Moles attended the meeting of the International Atomic Weight Commission as a prospective member and was elected the first Secretary of the Commission (the Secretary position was created during that meeting).[4][n 3] Moles served as the secretary of the Commission until his death in 1953.

Civil war[edit]

The Spanish Civil War was a turning point in Moles' career. In 1936, he was a professor and vice-rector of the Complutense University of Madrid, department head of the National Institute of Physics and Chemistry, the Secretary of the Spanish Society of Physics and Chemistry, a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences. At the time of the outbreak, Moles took over the leadership of the National Institute of Physics and Chemistry (Blas Cabrera Felipe had moved to Paris), and in 1937 Moles was appointed Director of Explosives at this institution, which was now used for military purposes by the Republican government. In 1937, Moles was appointed Director of Explosives. In 1939 Moles fled to France where he signed the manifesto "Against the Fascist barbarity," published by El Socialista newspaper on the day after the aerial bombardment of Madrid. This made him the object of reprisals by the Nationalist government upon his return from France in December 1941.[5] He was expelled from the University in January 1944, and joined the Instituto de Biología y Sueroterapia (IBYS) as technical advisor.


The Institute for Organometallic Chemistry of University of Oviedo was named after Enrique Moles in 1992.[6]


  1. ^ Several conflicting dates are claimed. For example, the esteemed historian of chemistry, Ralph Oesper, gives the birth date as 25 July 1883 (pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/ed013p368) while Prof. A. Guye of the University of Geneva gives 21 July 1883 in his letter of certification dated 10 July 1917 (Berrojo Jario 1981; p. 945). The date of 26 Aug 1883 appears in the Civil Register.
  2. ^ Moles never received the "fourth" Doctorate in chemistry from the University of Leipzig
  3. ^ Enrique Moles was proposed to be a member of the Atomic Weights Commission in 1921, but was not confirmed


  1. ^ Augusto Pérez-Vitoria (28 Nov 1983). "Enrique Moles (1883-1953) Centenario de un gran químico español". El Pais. 
  2. ^ Berrojo Jario, Raúl (1981). "Enrique Moles y su obra". Universitat de Barcelona. ISBN 9788469343555. 
  3. ^ Roger Fennell (1994). History of IUPAC: 1919-1987. Blackwell Science. 
  4. ^ Comptes Rendus de la quinzieme conference. IUPAC. 1949. 
  5. ^ Ana Romero de Pablos. "Enrique Moles Ormella". Residencia de Estudiantes. 
  6. ^ "Instituto Universitario de Quimica Organometalica Enrique Moles". University of Oviedo.