This person was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but moved with their family to St. Petersburg, Russia, at the age of four. This person was educated by private tutors and showed a strong interest in chemistry from a young age. At the age of 18 this person’s father encouraged them to study abroad, resulting in a year in Paris, France, working with Théophile-Jules Pelouze, and four years working and studying in the United States.
This person returned to Russia to work in their father’s factory making military equipment, including early naval mines consisting of submerged casks of gunpowder, for the Crimean War. After the war, the factory went bankrupt and the family moved back to Sweden.
While in Sweden, this person began experimenting with explosives and made several key improvements and inventions that led to the establishment of companies, factories, and laboratories in over 20 countries.
In later life, this person lived mostly in Paris, but travelled extensively, overseeing his business interests and continuing his research. At the time of his death in 1896, he held over 350 patents for chemical and technological inventions.
Several of the companies he founded have become household names; they include Dyno Industries, Norway, and Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), UK, now part of the Dutch firm AkzoNobel, which can also trace its roots back to this person.
- The answer was published on November 28, 2012.