He had one sister (Marie) and four brothers (Louis 1853-1928, Alfred 1855-1929, George 1857-1935 and André 1861-1929). His mother raised the children according to very rigorous and strict principles, described by her son Henry: "I was accustomed to a very strict discipline: it was necessary to wake up on time, to prepare for your duties and lessons, to eat everything on your plate, etc. All my life I maintained respect for order and law. Order is one of the most perfect forms of civilization." (L. Guillet, REVUE DE METALLURGIE, Numéro Spécial, janvier 1937).
As a child Le Chatelier attended the Collège Rollin in Paris. At the age of 19, after only one year of instruction in special engineering, he followed his father's footsteps and enrolled in the École polytechnique on 25 October 1869. Like all the pupils of the polytechnique, in September 1870 Le Chatelier was named second lieutenant and took part in the Siege of Paris. After achieving brilliant results in his technical schooling he entered the École des Mines in Paris in 1871.
He married Genièvre Nicolas, a friend of the family and sister of four fellow polytechnicians. They had seven children, four girls and three boys. Five of the seven children went on to careers in the scientific world. Two of his were lost preceding his own death.
The subjects which Le Chatelier taught at the Collège de France were:
After four unsuccessful efforts (1884, 1897, 1898 and 1900), Le Chatelier was elected to the Académie des sciences (Academy of Science) in 1907.
Le Chatelier also carried out extensive research on metallurgy and was one of the founders of the technical newspaper "La revue de métallurgie" (The Metallurgy Review).
Part of Le Chatelier's work was devoted to industry. For example, he was a consulting engineer for a cement company, the Société des chaux et ciments Pavin de Lafarge. His 1887 doctoral thesis was dedicated to the subject of mortars: Recherches expérimentales sur la constitution des mortiers hydrauliques (Experiments in the composition of hydraulic mortars).
Le Chatelier is most famous for the law on chemical equilibrium which bears his name, Le Chatelier's principle, which is summarized thus:
If a chemical system at equilibrium experiences a change in concentration, temperature or total pressure, the equilibrium will shift in order to minimize that change.
This qualitative law makes it possible to envisage the displacement of equilibrium of a chemical reaction.
A change in concentration of a reaction in equilibrium for the following equation:
N2(g) + 3H2(g) → 2NH3(g)
If one increases the pressure of the reactants (Nitrogen, N2 and Hydrogen, H2) the reaction will tend to move towards the products to decrease the pressure of the reaction.
2SO2(g) + O2(g) → 2SO3(g)
The forward reaction is exothermic and the reverse reaction is endothermic. When the temperature is increased, this new condition will favour the reverse reaction, as this will absorb the increased energy in the system, hence keeping the equilibrium by decreasing the temperature.
Le Chatelier was politically conservative. In 1934, he published an opinion on the French forty-hour work week law in the Brussels publication Revue économique internationale. However, in spite of certain anti-parliamentarian convictions, he kept away from extreme right political movements.
The Alkali Roasting of Complex Oxide Minerals for High Purity Chemicals-Beyond the Le Chatelier Era into the 21st Century
Jan 01, 2011; A discussion of a 19th century process of solubilizing alumina from bauxite by Louise Le Chatelier is made here to see whether...