Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Mond, Ludwig

MOND, LUDWIG (1839–1909), chemical technologist, manufacturer, and collector of works of art, born at 7 March 1839. was of Jewish parentage. His father, Moritz B. Mond, was a merchant. His mother's maiden name was Henriette Levinsohn. After studying at the Realachule and the polytechnic school at Caasel, Mond worked in 1855 under Hermann Kolbe at Marburg and went in 1856 to Heidelberg to work under Robert Wilhebn Bunsen. In 1859 he began his industrial career in a miniature soda-works at Ringkuhl near Cassel, where he began the researches that led to his sulphur recovery process ; he next became manager of a factory at Mainz for the production of acetic acid by wood distillation. Thence proceeding to Cologne, he worked there at the production of ammonia from waste leather. Subsequently he spent some time at other factories in Germany and Holland. He came to England in 1862 and took out an English patent for the recovery of sulphur from the Leblanc alkali-waste, by a method of partial oxidation and treatment with acid, and in 1863 he went to John Hutchinson & Co. at Widnes to perfect the process. In 1864 he took over the construction and management of a Leblanc soda-works at Utrecht, but returned to Widnes in 1867, entering into partnership with J. Hutchinson of Hutchinson & Earle in order to push his sulphur recovery process. From this time forward he was domiciled in England ; he became a naturalised British subject in 1880. M. Schaffner had invented a process somewhat similar to that of Mond almost simultaneously, and manufacturers in Widnes, Newcastle, and Glasgow for a number of years used a combination of Mond's and Schaffner's processes by which about 30 per cent, of the total sulphur was recovered from the alkali-waste. The process was also used in France ; but by 1894 the Mond and Schaffner processes were entirely replaced by the Claus-Chance process (G. Lunge, Sulphuric Acid and Alkali, 2nd edit. ii. 827-51). In 1872 Mond made the acquaintance of Ernest Solvay, a Belgian chemist, who had effected great improvements in a rival process to that of Leblanc, the ammonia-soda process which had been invented by Harrison Gray Dyer and John Hemming in 1838. Solvay had started a small factory at Couillet near Charleroi for working his process. Mond, with much searching of heart, invested his small capital derived from the sulphur recovery process, in purchasing the option to work Solvay's patents in England. He entered into partnership with Mr. (now the Rt. Hon. Sir) John Tomlinson Brunner, his friend since 1862, who had been in the commercial department of Hutchinson's works. Not without difficulty, the two men raised the capital necessary to start works at Winnington, near Northwich. The Solvay process was imperfect during the first year of the working at Winnington everything that could explode, exploded, and everjrthing that would break, broke ; but by ceaseless labour Mond by 1880 had succeeded in perfecting the process so that it became a financial success. In 1881 the concern was turned into a limited liability company, of which Mond remained a managing director till his death; and the firm of Brunner, Mond & Co. are now the largest alkali makers in the world, employing about 4000 workmen. The firm was one of the first to adopt an eight hours' day and to provide model dwellings and playing-fields for their work-people. Mond left 20,000l. in trust for the benefit of disabled and aged workpeople belonging to the firm.

In 1879 Mond returned to the problem of the production of ammonia, which was important for the use of its compounds as artificial manure. A series of investigations carried out with his assistant. Dr. Joseph Hawliczek, based on the use of cyanides, was not followed up industrially ; a further series carried out with Mr. G. H. Beckett, Dr. Carl Markel, and Dr. Adolf Staub led to the invention of the Mond producer-gas plant, which Mond patented in 1883, and continued to improve till the end of his life. By carefully regulating the temperature of a furnace in which air and steam are led over heated coal or coke, Mond succeeded in converting all the nitrogen of the fuel into ammonia,, which could easily be recovered, and generating at the same time a very cheap and useful form of producer-gas. Over three million tons of bituminous fuel, lignites, and peats are now used annually at Dudley Port, Staffordshire, and in other places in various parts of the world in the production of 'Mond-gas.' Mond's next step in 1885 was to try, with the help of Dr. Carl Langer, to convert the heat energy of fuel, and in particular of producer-gas directly into electrical energy by improving the gas battery invented by Sir William Robert Grove [q. v. Suppl. I]. The use of porous plates moistened with sulphuric acid and faced on either side with platinum and platinum black, to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen, led to interesting results ; but the inventors were unable to overcome the defects of the cells (of which they published an account in 1889). Mond, in connection with this work, carried out a series of researches with Sir William Ramsay and Dr. John Shields on the occlusion of hydrogen and oxygen by platinum and palladium (Phil. Trans. clxxxvi. 657 (1896) ; cxo. 129 (1897) ; cxci. 124 (1898).

The work on the gas battery was interrupted by investisations of more urgent importance. Mond from 1886 directed his efforts to recover the chlorine wasted in the ammonia-soda process as calcium chloride. By using first nickel oxide, and later magnesia, instead of lime to decompose the ammonium chloride formed, he obtained easily decomposable chlorides, from which chlorine could be recovered by treatment with air or steam, either in the elementary form or in that of hydrochloric acid. Between 1886 and 1889 he took out a number of patents bearing on this point, some independently, some with G. Eschellmann, and his processes were used industrially for some time. The use of nickel compounds, and of nickel valves in the chlorine process, and the use of finely divided nickel to purify producer-gas for use in the gas battery led Mond, in collaboration with Langer and Quincke, to discover nickel carbonyl, a gaseous compound of nickel and carbon monoxide. Mond, after two years' work, based on this discovery a remarkable method for the extraction of metallic nickel from its ores, unlike any metallurgical process previously known (see paper 'On the extraction of nickel from its ores by the Mond process,' by W. C. Roberts-Austen, F.R.S., Proc. Inst. Civil Engineers, cxxxv. 29, 1899). Mond formed the 'Mond Nickel Company' to work the process, with mines in Canada and a model works at Clydach, near Swansea, with a considerable output of nickel yearly. Mond pursued the scientific investigation of the carbonyls, and with Quincke and Langer obtained iron carbonyls ; he suggested to Sir James Dewar an investigation on the production of nickel carbonyl under high pressure, for which Dewar took out a patent in 1902; and a posthumous paper, with a note by Mr. R. L. Mond, gives an account of investigations with Dr. Heinrich Hirtz and Mr. M. Dalton Cowap on carbonyls of cobalt, molybdenum, and ruthenium (Trans, Chem. Soc. 1910, p. 798). This was Mond's last research.

In the work of scientific societies Mond was extremely active. In January 1880 he took a leading part in the foundation of a Lancashire Chemical Society, and in the following April urged that it should become a national society ; as a result of the movement, which was largely helped by Sir Henry Roscoe, the Society of Chemical Industry was founded in 1881, and became later one of the largest scientific societies in the world. In August 1881 Mond undertook tho arrangements for the foundation of the Society's 'Journal,' drew up a plan for it, and guaranteed the cost till it should become self-supporting. He acted as foreign secretary of the society as president in 1888. In 1906 he was awarded the society's medal for conspicuous services to applied chemistry.

Mond was elected F.R.S. in 1891, honorary member of the German Chemical Society and member of the Società Reale of Naples in 1908, and corresponding member of the Prussian Akademie der Wissenschaften in 1909. He received honorary doctorates from the universities of Padua (1892), Heidelberg (1896), Mancheeter (1904), and Oxford (1907). He was awarded the grand cordon of the Crown of Italy in 1909.

Mond lived at Winnington from 1867 till 1884, when he removed to London ; he spent most of his winters in Rome, when he acquired the Palazzo Zuccari. For years he had suffered from heart from which he died at his house. The Poplars, Avenue Road, Regent's Park, on 11 Dec. 1909. He was buried with Jewish rites in a family mausoleum at the Si. Pancras cemetery, Finchley.

Mond married in 1866 his cousin Frida Loewenthal, who survives him. He left two sons, Robert Ludwiff Mond, and Sir Alfred Moritz Mond, liberal M.P. for Swansea, who was created a baronet in 1910. Mond was a man of great Scientific attainments, of indomitable resource and energy, and with a genius for divining the industrial possibilities of discoveries in pure science. Apart from inventions of detail; he will be remembered, as an industrial chemist, for having placed the soda process on a practical basis, for his nitrogen recovery process and producer gas, and for his nickel prooess. He left a fortune of over 1,000,000l. But his commercial success was 'the result and not the object of his work.'

The obituary of Mond by Carl Langer (Berichte der deutschen chem. Gesselleshaft for 1911, p. 3665) gives a list of his English patents, forty-nine in number, and a list (incomplete) of the papers pnbUihed br Mond whether independently, with the collaborators previously mentioned, or with R. Nasini (on the physical properties of certain nickel oompounds).

Apart from his daily occupations Mond's interests were mainly in pure science, music, and art, and the improvement of the condition of his workpeople. In his address to students at the opening of the Schorlemmer laboratory at Owens College, Manchester, on 3 May 1895 (Journ. Soc. Chem. Ind. xiv. 552), he insisted on the importance to industrial chemists of a training in pure science. None of his great benefactions were devoted to the teaching of applied science. He was inclined to deny that such teaching was of any value in the training of a chemist (Nasini, see bibliography below). In 1896 he gave 100,000l. under a special trust to found and equip the Davy-Faraday Laboratory, in a house next to the Royal Institution, for research in chemistry and physics; and by his will he left two sums of 50,000l. to the Royal Society and to the University of Heidelberg respectively, for the encouragement of research and other purposes. Between 1892 and his death he gave to the Royal Society sums amounting to 16,000l. for the continuance and improvement of the society's catalogue of scientific papers. In 1908 he founded a biennial prize of 400l. for chemistry at the Accademia dei Lincei (of which he had been elected an honorary member in 1899) in memory of his friend, the chemist, Stanislao Cannizzaro. He left to the town of Cassel a sum of 20,000l., together with 5000l. for a Jewish charitable foundation. In his lifetime he made large gifts for charitable purposes, but as a rule these remained anonymous.

From 1892 onwards Mond formed a remarkable collection of pictures, mainly early Italian, of which a detailed description was published by Dr. J. P. Richter, who acted as Mond's adviser (The Mond Collection, an Appreciation, 2 vols. London, 1910). Mond bequeathed, subject to the life-interest of his wife, the greater portion of his pictures to the National Gallery, with a sum to provide for their housing. He also left 20,000l. to the Munich Akademie der bildenden Künste for the training of art students.

Though not above the middle height, Mond was a man of impressive presence, with a massive head, full beard, dark piercing eyes, and strongly marked features of an Oriental type. A marble bust (1896) by Joseph von Kopf; a bronze bust by Henrik Glicenstein; a bronze full figure (1906) by Ferdinand Seeboeck; a monumental bronze bas relief (1909) by C. Fontana, presented to Mond by a committee of Italian chemists; a portrait medallion by E. Lantéri (1911), and an oil painting by Solomon J. Solomon, R.A. (at Sir Alfred Mond's house), belong to Mrs. Mond.

[Obituaries in The Times, 13 Dec. 1909; Nature, lxxxii. 222 (1909), by Sir Edward Thorpe, F.R.S.; Rendiconti della R. Accademia dei Lincei, ser. 5, xix. p. 409 (1910), by Raffaele Nasini; Rendiconti della Società chimica Italiana, ii. (1910), by Luigi Gabba; Journ. Soc. Chem. Industry, xxviii. 1304 (1910); The Recovery of Sulphur from Alkali-waste, by L. Mond, Liverpool, 1868; On the Origin of the Ammonia-Soda Process, by L. M., Journ. Chem. Soc. Ind. iv. 527 (1885); presidential address on the production of ammonia, Journ. Soc. Chem. Industry, viii. 505 (1889); presidential address on Chlorine to the chemical section of the British Association; Brit. Assoc. Report for 1896, p. 734; History of my Process of Nickel Extraction, by L. M., Journ. Soc. Chem. Ind. xiv. 945 (1895); personal knowledge; private information from Mrs. Mond, Mr. R. L. Mond, Sir WiUiam Ramsay, Sir Henry Roscoe, and Sir Edward Thorpe.]

P. J. H.