Smithson Tennant

If you are looking for high-quality products, please feel free to contact us and send an inquiry, email:

smithson tennant (1761-1815), English physician turned chemist, is well known to those working with platinum group metals (pgms) for his isolation of both iridium and osmium. He was also one of the earliest students of meteorites and was among those to determine the nickel content of the Cape of Good Hope meteorite and of the Limerick meteorite. The latter discovery led to Walter and Luis Alvarez proposing that the Cretaceous extinction was caused by a large meteorite impact.

Tennant was born on Nov. 30, 1761, in the village of Selby, Wensleydale in North Yorkshire, England. His father was a farmer and the family lived either at Mount Park Farm in the dale or at Park House, in the grounds of nearby Bolton Hall. He took his degree of doctor of medicine in 1796 but decided medical practice was not for him and pursued his chemistry interests instead.

He published very few scientific papers, but those that he did publish were significant enough to leave their mark on science and technology. He proved that diamond was a pure allotropic form of carbon, established that carbon dioxide was composed of oxygen and carbon, decomposed nitre to show that it consisted of phosphorus and calcium, estimated the quantity of fixed air produced by 2.5 grains of coal at a given temperature and demonstrated that potassium nitrate reacted with gold.

Tennant was also among the first to recognize iridium, the densest of the naturally occurring elements and twice as heavy as lead. He named it for the iridescent color of some of its compounds and also found it in the residue left from processing platinum ore.

Resent Products