Parsonage Ln, Enfield EN1 3EX, United Kingdom
George attended the Palace School in Enfield.
Ludwigstraße 23, 35390 Gießen, Germany
George obtained his Ph.D. at Giesen, in Germany.
George attended the Palace School in Enfield. He obtained his Ph.D. at Giesen, in Germany.
After graduating, George became a Thomas Graham’s assistant at University College. He held lectureships in chemistry at Charing Cross and Middlesex hospitals. In 1842 he became a professor of chemistry to the Pharmaceutical Society and began a lecture series on organic chemistry at the Royal Institution. He was the first director of the newly established Birkbeck Laboratory at University College in 1845. Pulmonary disease obliged him to resign his lectureships by 1846, and after three years of poor health, he died of consumption.
Fownes accomplished the bulk of his work in only four years from 1842 to 1846. In 1845 he prepared furfural by the action of sulfuric acid on bran. In the same year, he isolated benzoline from the oil of bitter almonds. In 1839 he accurately determined the equivalent weight of carbon by means of the combustion of naphthalene. Fownes reported that the accepted value as determined by Berzelius and others was too high. He prepared potassium cyanide by passing nitrogen over potassium carbonate and charcoal at high temperature, a process that was used industrially for a time. In 1844 he discovered the presence of phosphate in igneous rocks and suggested that this was the original source of phosphate in clay and soil.
He wrote two widely read books. In 1844 he published Chemistry, As Exemplifying the Wisdom and Beneficence of God, and argument for design in the universe based on the chemical constitution of the earth, sea, and atmosphere. His Manual of Elementary Chemistry, published in 1844, was a very popular textbook for half a century.
Fownes was a member of the Royal Society London.