Gottlieb Kirchhoff

Gottlieb Sigismund Constantin Kirchhoff (19 February 1764 – 14 February 1833) was a Russian chemist of German origin. In 1792–1802, Assistant Director and then Director of the Head Pharmacy at Saint Petersburg. Corresponding member (1807–1812) and since 1812 Full member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences (Russia). In 1811, he became the first person to convert starch into a sugar (corn syrup), by heating it with sulfuric acid in acid-catalyzed reaction.[1] This sugar was eventually named glucose.[2] He also developed a method of refining vegetable oil, and established a factory that prepared two tons of refined oil a day.[2]

Gottlieb Sigismund Kirchhoff
Born(1764-02-19)19 February 1764
Died14 February 1833(1833-02-14) (aged 68)
Known forHydrolysis of starch into a sugar.
Refining vegetable oil.
Scientific career

Since the sulfuric acid was not consumed, it was the first documented example of catalysis in organic chemistry. (A term that Jöns Jacob Berzelius would later coin.)


  1. ^ See:
    • Scherer (1811) "Kirchhof's entdeckte Zubereitung des Zuckers und Syrups aus Buchweizen" (Kirchhoff's discovery of a preparation of sugar and syrup from buckwheat), Bulletin des Neuesten und Wissenwürdigsten aus der Naturwissenschaft … (Bulletin of the most recent and most useful to know [news] from science … ), 9 : 262–263.
    • Kirchhoff (1811) Mémoires de l'Académie impériale des sciences de St. Pétersbourg, 4 : 27. From page 27: "Mr. l'Adjoint Kirchhoff présenta à la Conférence trois flacons, contenans: 1°) du Sirop produit par l'art dans quelques végétaux (la pomme de terre, le froment et le blé noir ou Sarazin), … " (Assistant [professor] Kirchhoff presented to the conference three bottles, containing: (1) syrup produced artificially from some vegetables (potato, wheat and buckwheat or Sarazin), … )
    • (Editor) (1812) "Die Verfertigung des Zuckers aus Buchweizen- und andere Mehlarten" (The manufacture of sugar from buckwheat and other flours), Bulletin des Neuesten und Wissenwürdigsten aus der Naturwissenschaft … , 10 : 88–89.
    • Кирхгоф, К. С. [Kirchhoff, C. S.] (1812) "О приготовлении сахара из крахмала" [O prigotovlenii sakhara iz krakhmala, "On the preparation of sugar from starch"], Технологический журнал [Tekhnologichesky zhurnal, Technology magazine], 9 (1) : 3–26.
  2. ^ a b Asimov, Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology 2nd Revised edition