Apparatus for determing the empirical formula of organic compounds, c 1830.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
At the rear of the picture is Berzelius' apparatus, c 1827. Jons Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848) devised the first consistently accurate method of using the oxidation technique developed by Gay-Lusac (1778-1850) and Thenard (1777-1857). This technique allowed surveys of organic compostition to be made. In the foreground lies a reproduction of Justus Liebig's (1803-1873) combustion train which greatly improved the determination of empirical formulae of organic compounds, which he published in 1831.