Professor Avelino Corma Canos has been selected for the 2009 Michel Boudart Award for the Advancement of Catalysis. The award consists of a plaque and a monetary prize. The 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/or practice of heterogeneous catalysis. The Award is sponsored by the Haldor Topsøe Company and is administered jointly by the NACS and the EFCATS. More information on this award and the award process can be found in the Awards folder on the NACS home page www.nacatsoc.org. Professor Corma will also be asked to give plenary lectures at the San Francisco NAM meeting in June 2009 and the EuropaCat 2009 meeting in Salamanca, Spain.
Avelino Corma has been a research professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia since 1990 where he founded and is director of the Instituto de Tecnologia Química (UPV-CSIC) at Valencia. He is a world class leader in structured nanomaterials and molecular sieves as catalysts, covering aspects of synthesis, characterization, and reactivity in acid-base and redox catalysis. He is recognized widely for his unique ability to combine state-of-the-art synthetic protocols with modern theoretical and characterization methods to design catalytic materials for specific functions. Avelino has become one of the most prolific and versatile contributors to the science and technology of heterogeneous catalysis. He has published nearly 700 scholarly manuscripts in the leading journals of chemistry and catalysis, and he has been recognized among the fifty most highly cited chemists for the last decade. Remarkably, he has combined these scholarly contributions with more than 100 patents covering inventions of far-reaching impact to the industrial practice of catalysis, many of them licensed to industry and some in commercial practice. In 2006 alone, he received four prestigious international awards in recognition of his many and broad fundamental and practical contributions to the field. As one nominator described, “Professor Avelino Corma’s … work illustrates the value of fundamental concepts in practical discoveries and the need to bring together experiment and theory, characterization of structure and function in complex inorganic solids, and industry and academia as we seek to advance the science of catalysis.” Another supporter remarked, he is “one of the internationally preeminent scholars in the field of catalysis today. His work has had immense impact on the science of this field and has also led to a number of significant technical applications, a very rare accomplishment for any academic investigator.”
Avelino’s grasp of concepts and of fundamental needs has been illustrated in his recent attempts to synthesize and use well defined-single-isolated sites to establish structure-function relations and to establish the connections among homogeneous, enzymatic and heterogeneous catalysis, a conceptual framework that put forward in a seminal paper in Catalysis Reviews, 46 (2004) 369 – 417. One of these approaches involves the selective attachment of organometallic complexes onto tailored substrates that act not only as scaffolds but also as active participant in the activation of reactants and in the stabilization of transition states. These materials provide significant improvements over homogeneous versions of these active complexes through the active participation of the inorganic scaffolds, as shown in some of his recent publications, in which these concepts have been put into practice (e.g. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 45, 3328 (2006); J. Catal. 224, 170 (2004); Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 46, 1536 (2007); Adv. Synth. Catal. 348, 1283 (2006)).
In another example of his many contributions to catalysis, he and his research group have not only addressed the design of new zeolites materials for conventional reactions of hydrocarbons, but also discovered new chemistries and applications for these materials in the synthesis of petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and fine chemicals. The ITQ-type materials have become ubiquitous in the literature; they represent new catalyst compositions, currently numbering about 50 and consisting mostly of microporous solids, all discovered within the Corma research group. His novel catalysts for paraffin isomerization are widely used in practice because of their unprecedented sulfur resistance and high stability and selectivity. His collaborations with industry have led to new zeolites with significant potential in catalytic cracking because of their stability and desirable product distributions. Professor Corma has published extensively about applied aspects of heterogeneous catalysis related to refining technology. These publications have recently explored the kinetics of organosulfur reactions during cracking reactions and the details of hydroisomerization catalysis on acid and bifunctional catalysts, all of which are of critical importance in sustainable development, efficient energy use and responsible management of the environment.
His design of well structured oxidation and hydrogenation catalysts has lead to new catalytic routes for the chemoselective of lactones (Nature, 412, 423 (2001); Chemoselective hydrogenation of substituted nitroaromatics (Science 313, 332 (2006), Chemoselective synthesis of azocompounds (Science 322, 1661 (2008). He is now actively patenting and publishing on well defined multisite solid catalysts for cascade reactions.
In addition to his many outstanding research accomplishments, Avelino’s continued leadership in the field has been recognized by numerous awards, including the Francois Gault Award of the European Catalysis Society (2001), the Eugene Houdry Award of the North American Catalysis Society (2002), the Donald Breck Award of the International Zeolite Association (2004), and the Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis (2008).