chemist. He found in 1897 that if a mixture of ethylene and hydrogen was
passed over a column of heated nickel, the ethylene changed into ethane.
Further work revealed that nickel could be used to catalyse numerous chemical
reactions. Nobel prize 1912.
Sabatier was born in Carcassone, Aude, and studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. From 1884 he was professor at Toulouse.
With his assistant Abbé Jean-Baptiste Senderens (1856-1936), Sabatier extended the nickel-catalyst method to the hydrogenation of other unsaturated and aromatic compounds, and synthesized methane by the hydrogenation of carbon monoxide. He later showed that at higher temperatures the same catalysts can be used for dehydrogenation, enabling him to prepare aldehydes from primary alcohols and ketones from secondary alcohols.
Sabatier later explored the use of oxide catalysts, such as manganese oxide, silica, and alumina. Different catalysts often gave different products from the same starting material.
Alumina, for example, produced olefins (alkenes) with primary alcohols, which yielded aldehydes with a copper catalyst.