Michel Eugene Chevreul, French chemist and physicist, c 1820s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Chevreul (1786-1889) is best known for his pioneering investigations into the composition of oils and fats, and his theories of colour. His early discoveries included margarine, olein and stearin (used in suet). His work into the constitution of fats, and his discovery that fats can be separated into their respective fatty acids and glycerine, revolutionised the soap and candle-making industries. This work also laid the foundations for later research into the relationship between fats and heart disease.