Replica apparatus for the extraction and purification of penicillin

Made:
1986 in England
maker:
Heatley, Norman

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Replica of the apparatus for the continuous extraction and purification of penicillin, by Dr. Norman Heatley, England, 1986. The actual apparatus was first used by Dr. Norman Heatley on the Howard Florey team, in early 1941.

Made by Norman Heatley (1911-2004) himself, a member of the team at Oxford who were working on penicillin in the early 1940s, this is a replica of the apparatus he built for the continuous extraction and purification of the drug. It was specially made for the Science Museum. The original device, made in 1940, passed increasingly pure penicillin between solution in acidified water and an organic solvent.

Heatley was part of the team that managed to produce enough of the antibiotic for the first clinical trials in 1941. It was difficult to reproduce enough of the Penicillium mould, and difficult again to gain samples with few impurities. Heatley’s inventiveness shown both in this device and in his design of a dish to grow the mould at an experimental scale was of great importance to the development of penicillin.

On display

Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Details

Category:
Biotechnology
Object Number:
1986-1116
Materials:
cork, glass, metal, plastic, rubber, string and wood
Measurements:
crate: 2135 mm x 1030 mm x 560 mm, 137 kg
type:
laboratory apparatus
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • scientific equipment
credit:
Donated by Dr Norman Heatley

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