Emil Knoevenagel, inventor of the eponymous aldol condensation variant, was born on June 18, 1865, in Linden, Germany. He studied chemistry at the Technical University of Hanover and at the University of Göttigen, both Germany. His teachers included Hermann Ost, Wilhelm Kohlrausch, and Ludwig Gattermann. Knoevenagel received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1889 under the supervision of Victor Meyer in Göttingen. He then joined the University of Heidelberg, were he remained until his death on August 11, 1921. He served as a field officer in World War I from 1914 to 1918.
Knoevenagel focused predominantly on organic synthesis, especially reactions of carbonyl compounds. He developed an aldol reaction leading to unsaturated products under base catalysis, named “Knoevenagel condensation” after him. He also worked on stereochemistry and heterocycle synthesis.
Emil Knoevenagel is the answer to Guess the Chemist (42).
- Emil Knoevenagel (Obituary, in German),
Z. Angew. Chem. 1922, 35, 29–30.
Selected Publications by Emil Knoevenagel
- Ueber Condensationsproducte von Acetylaceton mit Aldehyden (in German),
Ber. Dtsch. Chem. Ges. 1903, 36, 2136–2180.
- Condensation von Malonsäure mit aromatischen Aldehyden durch Ammoniak und Amine (in German),
Ber. Dtsch. Chem. Ges. 1898, 31, 2596–2619.
Also of Interest
- Emil Knoevenagel and the Roots of Aminocatalysis,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2010, 49, 1730–1734.