Heinrich Biltz

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Heinrich Biltz
Biltz Johann Heinrich.jpg
Heinrich Biltz
Born May 26, 1865
Berlin, Germany
Died October 29, 1943 (1943-10-30) (aged 78)
Breslau, Germany
Residence Germany
Nationality German
Institutions University of Greifswald,
University of Kiel,
University of Breslau,
Alma mater University of Göttingen
Doctoral advisor Victor Meyer,
Doctoral students Wilhelm Klemm
Known for Synthesis of Phenytoin;
reactions of Acetylene and Autoxidation
Oxidative degradation of Uric Acid

Heinrich Biltz (May 26, 1865 in Berlin – October 29, 1943 in Breslau) was a German chemist and professor.

Life and career[edit]

Heinrich Biltz was the son of Karl Friedrich Biltz who was a literary scholar and theatre critic His brother Wilhelm Biltz was also a noted chemist.

After his university entrance diploma at the Royal Grammar School (Königliches Wilhelm-Gymnasium) in Berlin in 1885 he first began studying chemistry in the Humboldt University of Berlin with August Wilhelm von Hofmann and later in the University of Göttingen with Victor Meyer. In 1888 he was awarded his doctorate in natural science with the continuation of research commenced by Victor Meyer on the molecular weight of substances at high temperatures. During this time he also determined the vapour density from Tin (II) chloride and Sulphur.[1]

From 8 July 1891 he was a professor of chemistry at the University of Greifswald and from 1897 succeeded as the Chair of the Department of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Kiel where he continued his research on the determination of vapour density. In 1908 he succeeded in the synthesis of Phenytoin, which was used 30 years later as an effective drug for the control of seizure disorders. From autumn 1911 until his retirement in 1933 he lectured at the newly formed Albert Ladenburg Institute of the University of Breslau (Wroclaw) with his main emphasis on chemical reactions of organic substances, especially the reactions of Acetylene and Autoxidation.[2] He concentrated his further research activities on the chemistry of Uric Acid. He achieved and proved the complete oxidative degradation of Uric Acid with several oxidising agents.[3]

His work was interrupted when he participated in World War I as a reserve officer. After the war he increased his research activities considerably, often in close co-operation with his younger brother Wilhelm Biltz who was also professor of chemistry and with other highly renowned chemists.

The German Chemical Industry established in 1925 the Heinrich-Biltz- Foundation which was destined to support highly skilled students. In honour of the merits of Heinrich Biltz, Walter Hückel issued an obituary in the journal Chemische Berichte and annexed a complete bibliography of his work.

He married Freya de la Motte Fouqué, a daughter of a physician in Kiel; Their marriage remained childless.

Publications and Books (options)[edit]

  • Biltz, Heinrich: ‚"Experimentelle Einführung in die Unorganische Chemie". Veit & Comp, Leipzig, later Walter de Gruyter. - Berlin [u. a.] 1. Aufl. 1898, 20. Auflage 1938, later continued by Wilhelm Klemm u. Werner Fischer
  • Biltz, Heinrich: "Qualitative Analyse unorganischer Substanzen", 1. Auflage 1900, 13 und 14. Auflage 1936; Veit & Comp, Leipzig, later Walter de Gruyter
  • Biltz, Heinrich; Biltz, Wilhelm: "Übungsbeispiele aus der unorganischen Experimentalchemie", 1. Auflage 1907; 3.und 4. Auflage 1920; Engelmann, Leipzig
  • Heinrich Biltz works in Wiley Interscience:[4]


  • Archive documents Hans-Thorald Michaelis, (Nephew)
  • Hans-Thorald Michaelis:‚ "Die Gebrüder Heinrich und Wilhelm Biltz und ihre Vorfahren". ("The brothers Heinrich and Wilhelm Biltz and their ancestors"); Mitteldeutsche Familienkunde Band 6, 21. Jhrg. (1980), Heft 3, S. 231-303
  • Walter Hückel: "Heinrich Biltz in memoriam", in the journal Chemische Berichte, 82. Jhrg. (1949), Nr. 6, S. 67-88

External links[edit]

  • [4] Link to an English Translation of Biltz's seminal 1908 article on phenytoin synthesis. And also to a review article on the preparation of hydantoins which Biltz wrote later in his career with Karl Slotta at the University of Breslau, Poland in 1926.