Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

L'Electrificació de la química al segle XVIII : una xarxa de guspires

Pere Grapí i Vilumara


Although Voltas uncovering of the electric pile in 1800 opened the frontiers
of a new territory for chemistry that resulted to be very fruitful along the century, it was
during the previous century that electricity in the form of sparks invaded the practice
of chemistry. This process of electrification happened in a quite complex stage that
can be viewed as a net with its main nodes in Italy, England, France and Holland. In
these neuralgic centers prestigious men of science like Beccaria, Volta, Monge,
Berthollet, Lavoisier, Priestley, Cavendish, and Martinus van Marum adopted theories
for both the nature of electricity and the nature of chemical change in order to explain
the observed changes when electric sparks were triggered on substances. The intrusion
of electricity into chemistry was not alien to two great challenges: the nature of
«airs» and its purity or breathiness. It was in these two aspects that the electrification
of chemistry fostered a new instrumentation that had in Voltas eudiometer its more
emblematic instrument at the end of the XVIIIth century but that reached its top in the
next century with the analysis of gaseous samples.

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