Dobereiner, Johann Wolfgang (1780-1849), a German chemist. He discovered furfural, an oily liquid used in making synthetic rubber, in refining gasoline, and as a bleaching agent. His discovery of the catalytic action of platinum led to his invention of the Dobereiner lamp, a fire-starting device widely used before the invention of matches. It consists of finely divided platinum whose catalytic action ignites a jet of hydrogen gas that is passed over it. Dobereiner also did early work in grouping chemical elements by triads (threes), a step in the development of the Periodic Table. Dbereiner was born in Bavaria. He was professor of chemistry and pharmacy at the University of Jena after 1810.