Historical Records of Australian Science Historical Records of Australian Science Society
The history of science, pure and applied, in Australia, New Zealand and the southwest Pacific

Elemental Micro-analysis of Organic Compounds: the Australian Experience

Ian D. Rae

Historical Records of Australian Science 27(2) 116 - 132
Published: 07 November 2016


Combustion methods for elemental analysis developed in Europewere adopted by Australian chemists, some of whom undertook training in the Pregl laboratory in Graz, the centre of microanalytical expertise. Microanalytical services developed slowly at the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne. After World War 2 the University of Melbourne and Australia's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research combined to bring German experts to Australia. One of them, Dr K. W. Zimmermann, headed the Australian Microanalytical Service in Melbourne that met the needs of Australian chemists and some overseas customers for four decades. Zimmermann also trained a chemist from Singapore, Mrs Tong Hee Keong, who returned to establish a microanalytical service there. Smaller facilities continued at some Australian universities but most of these closed as the need for micro analyses waned. Simple analyses could be conducted with modern auto-analyzers, but the use of mass spectroscopy to determine accurate molecular masses could obviate the need for combustion analysis. Two university services remain, and a microanalytical service in New Zealand has served Australian customers in recent years.


© Australian Academy of Science 2016

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