The discovery of urea.

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Urea is a water-soluble compound with the chemical formula CO(NH2)2. It is the major nitrogenous end product of protein metabolism and is the chief nitrogenous component of the urine in mammals and other certain animals. It is also called as carbamide[1].


The Dutch scientist Herman Boerhaave discovered urea in 1727 after isolating[2] it from urine in the following manner:

  • He boiled urine until it turned into a substance resembling fresh cream.
  • He then used filter paper to extract the remaining fluid from the creamy substance.
  • He then kept the filtrate standing for a year. A solid mass then formed under an oily liquid.
  • He removed the oily liquid and dissolved the solid in water.
  • After leaving the solution to evaporate, crystals of urea were then formed.

Here is a photograph[3] of urea crystals:

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Here is a portrait[4] of Herman Boerhaave:

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  2. source=gbs_navlinks_s, pages 276-277.
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