The discovery of glycine.

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Glycine is one of 20 amino acids in proteins. It is a sweet-tasting crystalline amino acid with the chemical formula C2H5NO2. It is a major component of gelatine and silk fibroin and is used as a nutrient and dietary supplement[1].


The French chemist Henri Braconnot discovered glycine in 1820. He described his discovery in an 1820 article[2]:

  • He mixed 12 grams of powdered commercial glue (which contained gelatine) with concentrated sulphuric acid and let the solution stand for 24 hours. 
  • He then added some water and boiled the solution for 5 hours, making sure to add some more water from time to time. 
  • He filtered the solution and upon evaporation, it turned into a thick syrup.
  • He left this syrup alone for almost a month and noticed grainy crystals which tasted very sweet.
  • He then isolated these crystals, washed them with weak alcohol and laid them out on a cloth to further crystallise.

Here is a portrait[3] of Henri Braconnot:

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  2. 1up&seq=119, pages 113-114.
  3. kw2657634