Scientist highlight – Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday

Find out how Michael Faraday’s discoveries in Electrochemistry and the wider chemistry field helped make the invention of Karl Fischer Coulometric and Volumetric equipment possible. This meant Faraday, albeit a bit of an underdog in the scientific community with no formal education, was one of the most influential scientists in history.

He is most well known for his contributions to electromagnetism and electrochemistry. However, his contributions to organic chemistry were also major. Whilst his algebra and mathematics weren’t up to the standards of his peers, his experimental style was brilliant, simple and elegant. Albert Einstein was even said to keep a picture of him on the wall in his study.

His background

Born in 1791 in Surrey, Faraday came from a humble family and was to start his life as an apprentice blacksmith. At 14, he became an apprentice bookbinder in Blandford Street. He remained there for 7 years, where he read many books and developed an interest in science.

His enjoyment sparked in chemistry and he began to attend lectures at the Royal Institution. He took particular interest in lectures held by the Chemist, Humphrey Davy. This led to Davy hiring Faraday as an assistant.

His discoveries

Faraday’s contributions to chemistry during his career were poignant. He discovered Benzene in 1825, as well as discovering two new compounds of Chlorine and Carbon. He succeeded in liquifying several gases, investigated alloys of steel and produced several new kinds of glass for optical purposes. He also invented what was to become one of the earliest forms of the Bunsen burner.



Although his earlier discoveries were breakthroughs. It is his work in Electromagnetism and Electrochemistry that was more notable for the development of Karl Fischer’s Coulometric and Volumetric titration equipment and others like it.

Faraday’s greatest discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction in 1831 which is still taught today as Faraday’s law of induction. He also discovered Diamagnetism in 1845 and the two laws of Electrolysis in 1821.

It was these types of discoveries that contributed to the Coulometric and Volumetric titration process. In the coulometric titration reaction, electrolytic oxidation results in the production of Iodine, this is an immediate Karl Fischer reaction.

According to Faraday’s laws, the Iodine that is produced is in proportion to the quantity of electricity – meaning the water content can be determined instantaneously from the coulombs required for electrolytic oxidation.

In volumetric titration, when a dehydrating solvent is placed in a flask and all moisture is removed from the solvent. The moisture content of the sample is then determined from the titration volume, and the end point is detected using the constant-current polarization voltage method.

All the relevant reagents can also be purchased through our website.