Thomas Degnan named the 2012 F.G. Ciapetta Lecturer

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Thomas Degnan of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering is the recipient of the F.G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis, sponsored by the Grace Davison operating segment of W.R. Grace & Co. and the North American Catalysis Society. The Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium. The plaque will be presented during the closing banquet ceremonies at the 2013 NAM in Louisville, KY. The recipient will present lectures at most of the affiliated Clubs/Societies during the two-year period covered by this Lectureship.

The Award is given in recognition of substantial contributions to one or more areas in the field of catalysis with emphasis on industrially significant catalysts and catalytic processes and the discovery of new catalytic reactions and systems of potential industrial importance.

Tom Degnan is an internationally-recognized leader in the chemistry and applications of zeolite catalysis. Through his publications and numerous lectures, he has provided many examples of the value of fundamental scientific concepts in the practical deployment of catalytic processes. His record of scholarship stands alongside a remarkable list of more than 100 U.S. patents and his unique blend of creativity, leadership, and clarity of thought has made him not only a leading industrial inventor, but also an ambassador of industrial catalysis research in our community at large.

Tom is specifically recognized with the F. G. Ciapetta Lectureship for his contributions to the discovery, development, and commercialization of molecular sieves as catalysts and for his key role in developing their applications as catalysts in important large-scale industrial processes. Throughout his industrial career, he has made seminal contributions to the discovery and commercialization of more than ten catalytic processes for the production of high-performance lubricants, clean fuels, and petrochemicals. He led a research group that discovered how active sites at zeolite crystal surfaces show unique properties in the alkylation of aromatics and coined the term “surface pocket” catalysis to describe these inorganic enzyme-like catalytic structures. His fundamental studies of paraffin isomerization on bifunctional shape-selective catalysts demonstrated the essential interplay between diffusion and reaction processes and led to the discovery of several new catalysts for the synthesis of high-quality fuels and lubricants. His research vision and management leadership also led to catalytic processes with unprecedented selectivity for the production of p-xylenes.

I am delighted that the North American Catalysis Society has chosen to recognize the contributions of Dr. Thomas Degnan with this lectureship. I speak with the voice of our grateful community in also thanking the management of W.R. Grace& Co. for its continuing support of this lectureship.
Enrique Iglesia
President, North American Catalysis Society

American Chemical Society National Awards for 2012

The North American Catalysis Society congratulates three of our members that have been recognized with significant American Chemical Society National Awards for 2012. The award recipients are Dr. Thomas F. Degnan Jr, ExxonMobil, Professor James A. Dumesic University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Professor Enrique Iglesia, University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Degnan has been named as winner of the 2012 ACS Award in Industrial Chemistry sponsored by the ACS Division of Business Development & Management and the ACS Division of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. Professor Dumesic has been named winner of the 2012 George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry sponsored by the George A. Olah Award Endowment. Professor Iglesia has been named winner of the 2012 Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis sponsored by the Gabor A. and Judith K. Somorjai Endowment Fund. All three recipients will be honored at an Awards Ceremony on March 27, 2012 held in conjunction with the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego, CA.
Bruce Cook
Vice President, North American Catalysis Society

Professor Johannes Lercher named the 2011 Burwell Lecturer

I am pleased to announce that Professor Johannes A. Lercher of the Technical University of Munich is the recipient of the 2011 Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis of the North American Catalysis Society, sponsored by Johnson Matthey and administered by The North American Catalysis Society. It is to be awarded biennially in odd-numbered years. The award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. The plaque will be presented during the closing banquet ceremonies at the 2011 North American Meeting of the Catalysis Society.An additional $4,500 is available to cover travelling expenses in North America. Professor Lercher will present lectures at the local catalysis clubs and societies during the two-year period covered by this award.

The Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis is given in recognition of substantial contributions to one or more areas in the field of catalysis with emphasis on discovery and understanding of catalytic phenomena, catalytic reaction mechanisms and identification and description of catalytic sites and species.

Professor Lercher is being recognized for his ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the interactions and transformations of molecules on solid catalysts through elegant combinations of physicochemical and kinetic analyses. His studies of the elementary in molecular transport through porous media and the resulting insights into the design of solids to manipulate these steps have led to a successful synthesis of hierarchic materials able to discriminate molecules on the basis of the volume defined by their rotation in the gas space. His studies of the into the structure and thermodynamic properties of hydrocarbons adsorbed within zeolite voids and on polar surfaces led to efficient catalysts for the selective activation of organic molecules. The concepts and learnings developed have stimulated significant experimental and theoretical studies in these areas and the development of novel catalytic chemistries for alkane activation. These chemistries include the functionalization of methane to methyl chloride on chloride surfaces, the oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane to ethene on supported molten chlorides, the stable and selective alkylation of isobutane with linear butenes on acidic zeolites, and the activation and cracking of branched alkanes by zeolites containing accessible lanthanum cations at ambient temperatures.
Enrique Iglesia

President, North American Catalysis Society

Professor James A. Dumesic is the recipient of the 2011 Boudart Award in Catalysis

We are pleased to announce that Professor James A. Dumesic of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the recipient of the 2011 Michel Boudart for Advances in Catalysis, sponsored by the Haldor Topsøe Company and administered jointly by the North American Catalysis Society and the European Federation of Catalysis Societies. The Award will be presented at the 22nd North American Meeting of the Catalysis Society (Detroit, June 2011) and at Europacat X (Glasgow, August 2011).

This Award recognizes and encourages individual contributions to the elucidation of the mechanism and active sites involved in catalytic phenomena and to the development of new methods or concepts that advance the understanding and the practice of heterogeneous catalysis. It is meant to recognize individuals who bring together the rigor and the international impact that exemplifies the accomplishments and the career of Professor Michel Boudart.

Professor Dumesic is being specifically recognized for his pioneering work on the transformation of biomass-derived molecules to chemicals and fuels. In a combination of discovery and refinement, driven by catalytic insight that is his hallmark, Dumesic and his coworkers used thermodynamic and kinetic considerations, combined with catalyst optimization to develop a one-step aqueous phase reforming route from sugars and other biomass-derived oxygenates to hydrogen and/or alkanes. The work was guided by mechanistic insights about the relative rates of C-C cleavage, leading to the formation of H2 and CO/CO2, and C-O cleavage, which forms alkyl moieties, and led to the optimization of aqueous phase reforming for either H2 or alkane products. His studies elucidated catalysts and reaction conditions for polyol reforming that favor C-C cleavage with minimal water-gas shift, thereby allowing glycerol reforming and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis to occur within a single reactor. These discoveries were quickly followed by two new and innovative catalytic conversion processes. One approach employs a cascade of reactors, each designed to sequentially attack specific functional groups; these reactions remove oxygen, achieve carbon-carbon bond synthesis, and steer the final upgrading steps towards the desired fuel molecules. These studies have shown how metal functions, moderated by another metal, can convert sugars and polyols to mono-functional intermediates, such as ketones, alcohols, and carboxylic acids, by balancing the rates of C-C and C-O cleavage. This approach led to strategies to form new C-C bonds via coupling of these mono-functional intermediates to adjust chain length, as in the case of ketonization catalysis of carboxylic acids on mixed oxides and subsequent aldol-condensation to react ketones and alcohols on solid bases. Another novel approach involved γ-gamma-valerolactone decarboxylation to butene and its oligomers and, in related work, the use of metal-acid bifunctional catalysts to convert valerolactone to C9 ketones by coupling ring-opening and C=C bond hydrogenation with the ketonization of resulting pentanoic acid.

This body of work has redefined the frontiers of fundamental catalysis while simultaneously addressing the critical worldwide needs for renewable energy sources and epitomizes the confluence of elegance and relevance in catalysis that the Boudart Award intends to recognize.
Enrique Iglesia
President, North American Catalysis Society
Avelino Corma Canos
President, European Federation of Catalysis Societies

Professor Bert Weckhuysen is the recipient of the 2011 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis

Professor Bert Weckhuysen of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science of Utrecht University (The Netherlands) is the recipient of the 2011 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis, sponsored by the Grace Davison operating segment of W.R. Grace & Co. and administered by The North American Catalysis Society. The Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. The plaque will be presented during the closing banquet ceremonies at the 22nd North American Meeting of the Catalysis Society to be held in Detroit, Michigan on June 5-10, 2011. Professor Weckhuysen will present a plenary lecture during this conference.

The Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis is given in recognition of substantial individual contributions in the field of catalysis with emphasis on discovery and understanding of catalytic phenomena, proposal of catalytic reaction mechanisms and identification of and description of catalytic sites and species.

Professor Weckhuysen is being recognized for his pioneering development and use of in-situ spectroscopic methods to probe solids at the micrometer and nanometer scale during their activation and their function as catalysts. These studies have led to fundamental insights into the distribution of active sites and the mechanism of molecular diffusion and deactivation phenomena in zeolite and Fischer-Tropsch catalysts. Specifically, spatial heterogeneities in activity, selectivity and coking within individual ZSM-5 zeolite crystals were detected using a novel combination of micro-spectroscopy and rate data and interpreted in terms of complex but broadly applicable zeolite intergrowth models directly relevant to molecular diffusion and to mesoporosity generation during synthesis. In other studies, X-ray microscopy combined with an in-situ reactor led to unprecedented details of nanoscale processes involved in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, especially as they pertain to the dynamic evolution and the catalytic relevance of the various inorganic and organic phases formed during catalysis.

Harold Kung to Receive Gabor A. Somorjai Award

Harold Kung, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, will receive the 2011 Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis from the American Chemical Society.

The award recognizes outstanding theoretical, experimental, or developmental research resulting in the advancement of understanding or application of catalysis, and the list of winners includes the greatest researchers in the field of catalysis.

Kung is a world leader in the field of heterogeneous catalysis research and the development of novel materials and processes. He applies his expertise to the critical areas of sustainability, renewable energy and environmental chemistry.

Currently Kung and his research group are focused on the synthesis of novel nanomaterials for catalytic applications to minimize energy consumption and environmental impact and on new lithium-ion battery technologies, such as new forms of electrodes for improved electrical energy storage.

During his career Kung has made significant contributions in various areas of heterogeneous catalysis, starting with seminal work that demonstrated the relationship between surface atomic structures of an oxide and its chemical and catalytic properties. He has led the field in studying oxide-based catalysts for the removal of the atmospheric pollutant nitric oxide by reduction with hydrocarbons in an oxidizing atmosphere. More recently, Kung became the first to synthesize an internally functionalized hollow nanosphere that can be used to trap and bind molecules and metal complexes.

The award will be presented at the spring meeting of the ACS in 2011.
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Chunshan Song Selected as Winner for 2010 Henry H Storch Award from ACS

Chunshan Song, distinguished professor of fuel science in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and Director of EMS Energy Institute at Penn State, received the Henry H. Storch Award in Fuel Chemistry from American Chemical Society (ACS) at the 240th ACS national meeting held in Boston, MA, during Aug 21-26, 2010. He received this prestigious award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to fuel science especially in the areas of clean fuels, catalysis, and CO2 capture and conversion research.

The Henry H. Storch Award, co-sponsored by the Division of Fuel Chemistry of the ACS and Elsevier Ltd., is given annually to recognize an individual in the field of fuel science for an exceptional contribution to the research on the chemistry and utilization of hydrocarbon fuels. Special consideration is given to innovation and novelty in the use of fuels, characterization of fuels, and advances in fuel chemistry that benefit the public welfare or the environment. The award is the highest honor for research awarded by the ACS Fuel Chemistry Division.

Song was recently named a Distinguished Professor of Fuel Science by Penn State’s Office of the President. He is also professor of chemical engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Associate Director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment. He received a BS in chemical engineering in 1982 from Dalian University of Technology, China, and a MS in 1986 and PhD in 1989 in applied chemistry from Osaka University, Japan. He worked at the Research Center of Osaka Gas Company in Japan prior to joining Penn State in Nov 1989.

Song is internationally recognized for his original and innovative contributions to clean fuels, catalysis and CO2 capture and conversion research. His early research at Penn State on catalytic coal liquefaction and the effects of drying coal on coal conversion at low temperatures led to a new way of preparing highly active dispersed catalysts using water and sulfide precursor. Based on this discovery, further fundamental studies using probe molecules resulted in two patents for inventions on nano-sized ultra-high-surface metal sulfide catalysts that have been licensed to industry. From his efforts to make better use of coal-derived aromatics for value-added chemicals, he has designed shape-selective alkylation catalysts for synthesis of precursors for advanced polymers and engineering materials from naphthalene, which have been patented and licensed to industry. He has made major contributions to the development of coal-based advanced thermally stable jet fuels through his work on fundamental chemistry concerning the effects of intrinsic fuel composition and structure on thermal degradation of jet fuels, and his work on model compounds studies related to stable bicyclic structures and hydroaromatics and their tailored production through catalysis. These developments were part of the large, 20 year, U.S. government-funded jet fuel project led by Harold Schobert at Penn State, which has been scaled up to pilot plant production. For ultra-clean fuels and fuel cells, Song and his group devised an innovative approach to selective adsorption for removing sulfur from liquid hydrocarbon fuels over solid surface without using hydrogen, which has also been licensed to industry and already used for making prototype systems.

His group recently developed a novel approach to CO2 capture by “molecular-basket sorbents” consisting of nanoporous matrix and functional polymers with superior capacity and selectivity. In addition, his group developed sulfur-tolerant and carbon-resistant bimetallic and trimetallic catalysts for low-temperature steam reforming of liquid fuels and non-pyrophoric catalysts for oxygen-assisted water gas shift. He recently proposed a new design concept of sulfur-tolerant noble metal catalysts for low-temperature hydrotreating and dearomatization for ultra clean fuels.

Song is an active leader in hydrocarbon processing research and has been elected as Chair of the Fuel Chemistry and the Petroleum Chemistry Divisions of American Chemical Society as well as Chair of the Advisory Board for the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference. He has also served as chair or co-chair for over 35 international symposia, and is currently on eight research journal advisory boards, including Energy & Fuels, Catalysis Today, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, RSC Catalysis series, Research on Chemical Intermediates, Journal of Fuel Chemistry and Technology, Acta Petrolei Sinica, and Coal Conversion. In addition, he serves on the scientific advisory boards for several international conference series and for several R&D organizations worldwide.

A prolific author of many high-impact publications, Song has delivered 40 plenary or keynote lectures at international conferences and 190 invited lectures worldwide. He has 170 refereed journal articles (which received over 4400 citations), 6 refereed books, 25 book chapters, 11 special journal issues, 20 patents and patent applications, and over 280 conference papers. He has also received a number of major awards, including the 2010 Class of ACS Fellows, the Fulbright Distinguished Scholar from US-UK; the Herman Pines Award for Outstanding Research in Catalysis from Catalysis Club of Chicago in North American Catalysis Society; the Chang Jiang Scholar from the Ministry of Education of China; Most Cited Authors in Catalysis from Elsevier; Outstanding Scholar Overseas from the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Distinguished Catalysis Researcher Lectureship from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; the Robinson Distinguished Lectureship from University of Alberta, Canada; the NEDO Fellowship and AIST Fellowship Awards from Japan; Distinguished Service Awards from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Chemistry Division, and from the Annual International Pittsburgh Coal Conference. Within the Pennsylvania State University, he has received the Wilson Award for Excellence in Research, the Faculty Mentoring Award, Inventor Incentive Awards and the Materials Science & Engineering Service Award. . In addition, Song has held visiting professorships with Imperial College London, University of Paris VI, Tsinghua University, Dalian University of Technology, Taiyuan University of Technology, Tianjin University, and Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics as well as Institute of Coal Chemistry within Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A Storch Award Symposium in Honor of Chunshan Song was held at ACS Fall 2010 National Meeting in Boston during August 22-26, 2010.

Catalysis scientists elected Fellows of the American Chemical Society

The America Chemical Society has announced ( the election of 192 members to its 2010 ACS Fellows program for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the science, the profession, and service to the society. These fellows include the following members of our catalysis community:

  • Galen B. Fisher, University of Michigan
  • Cynthia M. Friend, Harvard University
  • Anne M. Gaffney, AMG Chemistry & Catalysis Consulting
  • Enrique Iglesia, University of California at Berkeley
  • Bruce D. Kay, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Robert J. Madix, Stanford University
  • Chunshan Song, Pennsylvania State University
  • Kathleen Taylor, General Motors (retired)
  • Yong Wang, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Joseph R. Zoeller, Eastman Chemical Company


Henrik Topsøe Selected as Winner for 2010 Distinguished Researcher Award, ACS Division of Petroleum Chemistry

The Petroleum Chemistry Division of American Chemical Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Henrik Topsøe has been selected as the winner of the 2010 Distinguished Researcher Award.

Henrik Topsøe is being recognized for his outstanding research contributions to the understanding of hydrotreating catalysts. Henrik Topsøe is Executive Vice President at Haldor Topsøe A/S in Lyngby, Denmark. He received his Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering in 1972 from Stanford University. After a postdoctoral stay at Stanford, he joined the Haldor Topsøe Research Laboratories in 1974. Here he started the fundamental catalysis group and he has also been the manager of the catalysis research department. Henrik Topsøe is adjunct professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTH) and has for many years been president of the Danish and Nordic Catalysis Societies and he is on the editorial boards of several catalysis journals. His awards include UOP International lecturer, Ford Distinguished lectures, Mason lecturer and the 2003 Glenn Award from ACS Fuel Chemistry Division. He was the first industrial researcher to be awarded The Francois Gault Lectureship from the European Federation of Catalysis Societies (2000). In 2005, the North American Catalysis Society awarded Henrik Topsøe the Eugene J. Houdry Award in Applied Catalysis.

A central theme in the research of Henrik Topsøe has been the establishment of a molecular basis for the design and production of improved industrial catalysts. In order to achieve this goal, Henrik Topsøe and his colleagues have over the years developed many important novel multidisciplinary techniques and approaches. Particular emphasis has been placed on understanding and developing improved hydrotreating catalysts, but many studies were also devoted to ammonia synthesis, methanol synthesis and DeNOx catalysts. At the time Henrik Topsøe and his colleagues started their research on hydrotreating catalysts, the catalyst systems were poorly understood. Consequently, special efforts were devoted to the development of new tools and in situ approaches which could provide the necessary atomic and molecular insight under relevant conditions. The studies were the first ones to reveal the nature of the active structures, the so-called Co-Mo-S family of promoted structures. Later studies have provided additional atomic insight into these structures and have elucidated the factors governing their production and how their activity and selectivity may be enhanced based on the optimization of support interactions and other catalysts features. This insight has been used by the industry worldwide for the introduction of many improved generations of catalysts – the latest being the Topsøe BRIMTM technology for several critical refining services including the production of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD). Henrik Topsøe has co-authored 180 publications, 3 books and has given more than 140 invited lectures.

An ACS Symposium in Honor of Henrik Topsoe is being organized by Prof. Chunshan Song of Penn State on behalf of ACS Petroleum Chemistry Division at the ACS National Meeting in Boston during August 22-26, 2010.

Dr. Jeffrey T. Miller is the recipient of the NACS 2010 F.G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis

Dr. Jeffrey T. Miller, currently Heterogeneous Catalysis Group Leader at Argonne National Laboratory, is the recipient of the 2010 F.G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis Award sponsored by the Grace Davison operating segment of W.R. Grace & Co. and The North American Catalysis Society. The Award is presented biennially in even numbered years and consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. The award plaque will be presented at the closing banquet during the 2011 Meeting of the North American catalysis Society. Dr. Miller will present lectures at the regular meeting of the affiliated local clubs and society during 2010 and 2011.

Dr. Miller is being recognized for his contributions to the scientific literature and to the practice of catalysis. His dedication and intensity in the pursuit of knowledge has led to industrial applications of his inventions and to a large number of scientific papers. His excellent contributions have advanced our knowledge of fundamental catalytic phenomena, while his interactions with academia have enriched the educational experience of many graduate students.

His research at BP/Amoco led to the development of several refining and petrochemical catalysts that remain in use. These include catalysts and processes for upgrading of highly aromatic feeds, for toluene disproportionation and transalkylation reactions, and for conversion of waste chemicals to high-value aromatic chemicals and fuel components. Through his academic collaborations, he has contributed to our fundamental understanding of acid-catalyzed hydrocarbon cracking by zeolites and to the synthesis, characterization and function of metal and alloy nanoparticles. He is widely regarded as a leader in the application of X-ray absorption methods during catalysis to probe synthetic pathways, identify active sites, and determine the dynamics of specific elementary steps within complex catalytic sequences. Upon retirement from BP/Amoco, he joined Argonne National Laboratory, where he continues his research on future sources of energy and his pedagogical endeavors in the application of X-ray spectroscopic methods to the study of catalysts and catalytic chemistries.