S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Simon, Dr Alfred Leon (inorganic chemistry)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Alfred L. Simon, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), was a technical chemist who was employed as assayer and chemist to the Ferreira Gold Mining Company in Johannesburg during the early eighteen-nineties. In 1892 he became a foundation member of the South African Association of Engineers and Architects, serving as a member of its council and honorary secretary for 1893-1894. He was still listed as a member in 1898. He and William Bettel* were involved in a legal case against the Gold Recovery Syndicate, Transvaal, in 1893. That same year, and again in 1897, they applied for patents.

Simon read four papers before the South African Association of Engineers and Architects, all of them during 1893 and all published in Volume 1 of its Proceedings. "The Molloy process for gold extraction" (pp. 22-25) was read in January 1893, when he was employed at the Molloy Gold Extraction Works and was illustrated by various electrical and chemical experiments. In "Notes on the cyanide process" (May, pp. 35-36) he reported on his experiments to ascertain how gold was lost in the cyanide extraction process. The amount of gold absorbed by the different materials used in vats, filtering cloths, etc. proved to be small, while most of the loss was as yet unaccounted for. "Correction of water for boilers in our district" (July, pp. 44-51) dealt with the composition of the feed water of boilers and its adjustment to prevent stoppages. His final note, "Thawing magazines for dynamite", was read in August (p. 55).

Simon's chemical papers may seem out of place in the proceedings of an engineering society. However, in 1893 it was the only scientific society on the Witwatersrand. The Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa was founded only in 1894 - and Simon did not become a member.

List of sources:
Draper, J.R. The engineer's contribution: A history of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1892-1967. Johannesburg: SAIME, 1967.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). . Documents relating to Simon, Alfred Leon / Simon, A.L.

South African Association of Engineers and Architects. Proceedings, 1892-1898, Vols 1 and 4.

Compiled by: C. Plug