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Leonid Andrussow

  Leonid Andrussow (*28. November 1896 in Riga; †15. December 1988 near Paris) was a German chemical engineer. He developed the process for the production of hydrogen cyanide based on the oxidation of ammonia and methane.


Leonid Andrussow was born in Riga, the capital of Latvia. His father Woldemar was lawyer, his mother was named Caroline Ulmann. They had 9 children. The name “Andrussow“ is probably a Russian derivation of the Swedish name “Anderson“. He graduated in chemical engineering at the University of Riga. During the Russian Revolution he fought against the communists. After being caught he was delivered to a cheka-prison in Moscow. He was released probably due to the influence of relatives in Germany. He went to Berlin-Charlottenburg (Germany) where he earned a doctorate in chemistry under Walter Nernst. 1927 he started working at BASF, then I.G. Farben, in Ludwigshafen and lived in the neighbouring city of Mannheim across the River Rhine. From 1946 on he lived in Grenoble, France and later in Paris. Form 1975 to 1981 he went back to Mannheim but returned later to Paris. He died near Paris at the age of 92 years.


  • Based on the theory of fast running catalytical processes, which was developed in 1927, the oxidative synthesis of hydrogen cyanide from ammonia and methane was found in 1930 and developed to an industrial stage. This process, which is known as the “Andrussow Process”, is nowadays the most important method fort the industrial production of hydrogen cyanide as a preliminary product for the synthesis of polyamide 66 (nylon) and for acrylic glass (polymethyl methacrylate).
  • 1932 Work on the catalytical alkylation with ether for the industrial production of purest dimethylaniline.
  • Conversion of tetrachlorethane to methylene chloride and trichlorethylene.
  • Numerous works on rocket fuels, among others the introduction of the system nitric acid and amines or other fuels. Collaboration during the development of the V-2 rocket in Stromberg. Addition of laughing gas for the substantial increase of flying velocity at high altitudes.
  • Advisory function in France coupled to the further development of the theory of catalytical processes: Sulphuric acid anhydride, formaldehyde, synthesis of ammonia.
  • Numerous studies on the transport properties of gases and liquids, inclusive macromolecules.
  • Author of one of the volumes of the Landolt-Börnstein-tables.

In 1927 he demonstrated that methane and ammonia react in the presence of oxygen at about 1200 °C over a platinum catalyst:[1]

CH4 + NH3 + 1.5O2 → HCN + 3H2O

The energy needed for the reaction is provided by the part oxidation of methane and ammonia.


  1. ^ L. Andrussow (1935). "The catalytic oxydation of ammonia-methane-mixtures to hydrogen cyanide.". Angewandte Chemie 48: 593-595.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Leonid_Andrussow". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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