Gabor Somorjai named University Professor and receives National Metal of Science

Gabor Somor­jai, pro­fes­sor of chem­istry at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley (USA) has been named Uni­ver­sity Pro­fes­sor. He becomes only the 23rd indi­vid­ual in the entire Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem to be hon­ored with this pres­ti­gious title. Pre­vi­ous hold­ers of this dis­tinc­tion include Glenn T. Seaborg and Melvin Calvin.

Gabor was also among a group of 15 recip­i­ents of the US National Metal of Sci­ence. This is the high­est award for sci­ence and is pre­sented by Pres­i­dent Bush. As Rita Col­well, direc­tor of the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, said in 1998 “These are super­stars in their respec­tive fields. They’ve con­tributed a life­time of stun­ning dis­cov­er­ies. We can only rec­og­nize them once with a sci­ence medal, but we applaud them daily for their con­tin­ual con­tri­bu­tions to humankind, to the reser­voir of sci­en­tific knowl­edge and for the impact they have on the stu­dents they men­tor and edu­cate along the way.”

2002 Catalysis Award of the Canadian Institute for Chemistry to Professor Michael Baird

CANADIAN CATALYSIS AWARD: The 2002 Catal­y­sis Award of the Cana­dian Insti­tute for Chem­istry has been given to Pro­fes­sor Michael Baird of Queen’s Uni­ver­sity, Kingston Ontario. Spon­sored by the Cana­dian Catal­y­sis Foun­da­tion, this prize is given in even-numbered years to a researcher who has con­tributed to the advance­ment of catal­y­sis in Canada. Michael Baird is an organometal­lic chemist who com­bines research in fun­da­men­tal organo tran­si­tion metal chem­istry with appli­ca­tions to organic syn­the­ses and catal­y­sis. Most recently, Pro­fes­sor Baird has been explor­ing the uti­liza­tion of metallocene-like organometal­lic com­pounds as homo­ge­neous catalysts/initiators for olefin poly­mer­iza­tion, which show inter­est­ing solvent-specifc stere­o­chem­i­cal behav­ior, and a wide range of poly­mer­iza­tion path­ways for var­i­ous monomer systems.

John Monnier awarded F. G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis

Dr. John Mon­nier [] of East­man Chem­i­cal Com­pany, Kingsport, TN has been awarded the 2002 F.G. Cia­petta Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis. This is one of 4 major awards for tech­ni­cal excel­lence the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety pro­vides every 2 years, and this award is cospon­sored by the Davi­son Chem­i­cal Divi­sion of W.R. Grace & Com­pany and The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. Dr. Mon­nier is being rec­og­nized for his pio­neer­ing work in catal­y­sis research and process devel­op­ment on the epox­i­da­tion of buta­di­ene and other non-allylic olefins with sup­ported sil­ver cat­a­lysts. This research has led to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of over 100 new appli­ca­tions for epoxy­butene and its deriv­a­tives. In 1996, East­man Chem­i­cal brought on line a 3 mil­lion lbs/yr plant to sup­ply 5 new epoxy­butene deriv­a­tives to the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and agri­cul­tural markets.

The Soci­ety admin­is­ters this Lec­ture­ship. It is awarded bien­ni­ally in even num­bered years, and the Award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­ium of $5,000. An addi­tional $4,500 is avail­able from the Soci­ety to cover trav­el­ing expenses. The hon­o­rar­ium is pro­vided com­pletely by Davi­son. Dr. Mon­nier is invited to (1) visit and lec­ture to each of the affil­i­ated Clubs/Societies with which mutu­ally sat­is­fac­tory arrange­ments can be made and (2) pre­pare a review paper(s) for pub­li­ca­tion cov­er­ing these Lectures.

Israel Wachs receives 2001 Clean Air Excellence Award

Pro­fes­sor Israel Wachs of Lehigh University’s Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing Depart­ment has received a 2001 Clean Air Excel­lence Award. The EPA 2001 Clean Air Excel­lence Awards pro­gram hon­ors out­stand­ing, inno­v­a­tive efforts that help to make progress in achiev­ing cleaner air. The research, spon­sored by Georgia-Pacific Corp., has pro­vided the pulp indus­try with a poten­tially prof­itable and inno­v­a­tive third alter­na­tive method of pro­cess­ing their waste gases. Using a new process and cat­a­lyst devel­oped at Lehigh, the methyl alco­hol and mer­cap­tans can be con­verted to formalde­hyde, a building-block chem­i­cal used for the adhe­sives, which find appli­ca­tion in the ply­wood indus­try. [See or N. Moretti’s arti­cle in Pol­lu­tion Engi­neer­ing, Jan. 2002, pp 24–28]. The waste gases are sim­ply processed through a plant, which is sim­i­lar in design to a con­ven­tional formalde­hyde plant that uti­lizes commercial-grade methyl alco­hol as a feed mate­r­ial. The novel envi­ron­men­tally benign process was con­cep­tu­ally devel­oped and exper­i­men­tally proven on a lab­o­ra­tory scale (see US Patent Nos. 5,907,066 and 6,198,005 B1 to I.E. Wachs/Lehigh Uni­ver­sity). The pilot plant stud­ies were per­formed at Georgia-Pacific’s Brunswick, GA pulp mill on the real indus­trial waste streams.

The Clean Air Excel­lence Awards [] Pro­gram, spon­sored by the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Air and Radi­a­tion, was estab­lished in 2000 at the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Clean Air Act Advi­sory Com­mit­tee (CAAAC). The CAAAC is a policy-level advi­sory group to the EPA. The Awards Pro­gram annu­ally rec­og­nizes and hon­ors out­stand­ing, inno­v­a­tive efforts that help to make progress in achiev­ing cleaner air.

The award cri­te­ria are: (1) the tech­nol­ogy is com­mer­cially viable and can be widely applied, (2) the tech­nol­ogy is cost-effective rel­a­tive to other air pol­lu­tion tech­nolo­gies that already exist and (3) the tech­nol­ogy is devel­oped at the pro­to­type stage or beyond. In 2000, XononTM Cool Com­bus­tion Sys­tem — Cat­alyt­ica Com­bus­tion Sys­tems, Inc. received an award for devel­op­ing the XononTM Cool Com­bus­tion sys­tem to reduce nitro­gen oxides by 90 per­cent. XononTM pre­vents the for­ma­tion of nitro­gen oxides before they can form and has been applied in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia in an indus­trial gas turbine.

Multiple ACS Awards for Catalysis Research

Once again, sev­eral of the 2002 ACS awards were given to those work­ing in catalysis.

ACS Award for Cre­ative Research in Homo­ge­neous or Het­ero­ge­neous Catal­y­sis spon­sored by Shell Oil Foun­da­tion, Jack H. Lunsford, Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity. …for inno­v­a­tive appli­ca­tions of spec­tro­scopic tech­niques to the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of solid cat­a­lysts and to the elu­ci­da­tion of cat­alytic reac­tion mechanisms.

ACS Award in Indus­trial Chem­istry, Bipin V. Vora, UOP, LLC, Des Plaines, IL. …for con­tri­bu­tions to break­through tech­nolo­gies in key petro­chem­i­cal indus­tries and for your lead­er­ship in two major com­mer­cial devel­op­ments: new selec­tive process for the pro­duc­tion of propy­lene and isobuty­lene by cat­alytic dehy­dro­gena­tion and new cat­alytic processes crit­i­cal for the pro­duc­tion of lin­ear alkyl ben­zene based detergents.

Arthur W. Adam­son Award for Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice in the Advance­ment of Sur­face Chem­istry spon­sored by Occi­den­tal Petro­leum Cor­po­ra­tion, D. Wayne Good­man,Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity. …for his inno­v­a­tive research that has helped bridge the gap between sur­face sci­ence and catal­y­sis, and for his lead­er­ship role in a large num­ber of coun­cils that have sig­nif­i­cantly influ­enced the direc­tion of sur­face chemistry.

Earle B. Barnes Award for Lead­er­ship in Chem­i­cal Research Man­age­ment spon­sored by The Dow Chem­i­cal Com­pany, to Kurt W. Swog­ger, The Dow Chem­i­cal Com­pany, Poly­olefins and Elas­tomers Research and Devel­op­ment, Freeport, TX. …for his lead­er­ship in the devel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Dow INSITE*Technology which pro­foundly changed the course and growth of the global poly­olefin industry.

Arthur C. Cope Award spon­sored by the Arthur C. Cope Fund, Robert H. Grubbs, Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy. …for his inven­tion of new tran­si­tion metal cat­a­lysts that have made a major impact on the fields of organic chem­istry and mate­ri­als science.

Arthur C. Cope Scholar Awards spon­sored by the Arthur C. Cope Fund, Xumu Zhang, The Penn­syl­va­nia State Uni­ver­sity; …for his inven­tion of a tool­box of chi­ral lig­ands and his devel­op­ment of homo­ge­neous cat­a­lysts that enable prac­ti­cal syn­the­ses of many chi­ral mol­e­cules, espe­cially ones hav­ing bio­log­i­cal significance.

E. V. Mur­phree Award in Indus­trial and Engi­neer­ing Chem­istry spon­sored by Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing Com­pany and Exxon­Mo­bil Chem­i­cal Com­pany, George R. Lester, Allied Sig­nal, Inc. (retired). …for his extra­or­di­nary con­tri­bu­tions to cat­alytic sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy and espe­cially for his inno­va­tions in envi­ron­men­tal con­trol cat­a­lysts for auto­mo­biles, tur­bine engines and work places.

George A. Olah Award in Hydro­car­bon or Petro­leum Chem­istry spon­sored by the George A. Olah Endow­ment, Gary B. McVicker, Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing Com­pany. …for his many con­tri­bu­tions to the fun­da­men­tal under­stand­ing of the cat­alytic trans­for­ma­tions of petro­leum derived hydrocarbons.

Catalysis is focus of 2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Acad­emy of Sci­ences has decided to award the Nobel Prize
in Chem­istry for 2001 for the devel­op­ment of cat­alytic asym­met­ric syn­the­sis, with one half jointly to:

William S. Knowles (St Louis, Mis­souri, USA) and Ryoji Noy­ori (Nagoya Uni­ver­sity, Chikusa, Nagoya, Japan) “for their work on chi­rally catal­ysed hydro­gena­tion reac­tions” and the other half to K. Barry Sharp­less (the Scripps Research Insti­tute, La Jolla, Cal­i­for­nia, USA) “for his work on chi­rally catal­ysed oxi­da­tion reactions”.

Mir­ror Image Catalysis

Many mol­e­cules appear in two forms that mir­ror each other — just as our hands mir­ror each other. Such mol­e­cules are called chi­ral. In nature one of these forms is often dom­i­nant, so in our cells one of these mir­ror images of a mol­e­cule fits “like a glove”, in con­trast to the other one which may even be harm­ful. Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts often con­sist of chi­ral mol­e­cules, and the dif­fer­ence between the two forms can be a mat­ter of life and death — as was the case, for exam­ple, in the thalido­mide dis­as­ter in the 1960s. That is why it is vital to be able to pro­duce the two chi­ral forms separately.

This year’s Nobel Lau­re­ates in Chem­istry have devel­oped mol­e­cules that can catal­yse impor­tant reac­tions so that only one of the two mir­ror image forms is pro­duced. The cat­a­lyst mol­e­cule, which itself is chi­ral, speeds up the reac­tion with­out being con­sumed. Just one of these mol­e­cules can pro­duce mil­lions of mol­e­cules of the desired mir­ror image form.

William S. Knowles dis­cov­ered that it was pos­si­ble to use tran­si­tion met­als to make chi­ral cat­a­lysts for an impor­tant type of reac­tion called hydro­gena­tion, thereby obtain­ing the desired mir­ror image form as the final prod­uct. His research quickly led to an indus­trial process for the pro­duc­tion of the L-DOPA drug which is used in the treat­ment of Parkinson’s dis­ease. Ryoji Noy­ori has led the fur­ther devel­op­ment of this process to today’s gen­eral chi­ral cat­a­lysts for hydrogenation.

K. Barry Sharp­less, on the other hand, is awarded half of the Prize for devel­op­ing chi­ral cat­a­lysts for another impor­tant type of reac­tion — oxidation.

The Lau­re­ates have opened up a com­pletely new field of research in which it is pos­si­ble to syn­the­sise mol­e­cules and mate­r­ial with new prop­er­ties. Today the results of their basic research are being used in a num­ber of indus­trial syn­the­ses of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts such as antibi­otics, anti-inflammatory drugs and heart medicines.

William S. Knowles, 84 years, born 1917 (US cit­i­zen). PhD 1942 at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity. Pre­vi­ously at Mon­santo Com­pany, St Louis, USA. Retired since 1986.

Ryoji Noy­ori, 63 years, born 1938 Kobe, Japan (Japan­ese cit­i­zen). PhD 1967 at Kyoto Uni­ver­sity. Since 1972 Pro­fes­sor of Chem­istry at Nagoya Uni­ver­sity and since 2000 Direc­tor of the Research Cen­ter for Mate­ri­als Sci­ence, Nagoya Uni­ver­sity, Nagoya, Japan (

K. Barry Sharp­less, 60 years, born 1941 Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, USA (US cit­i­zen). PhD 1968 at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity. Since 1990 W.M. Keck Pro­fes­sor of Chem­istry at the Scripps Research Insti­tute, La Jolla, USA (

Manos Mavrikakis selected for the 2009 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis

I am pleased to announce that Pro­fes­sor Manos Mavrikakis has been selected for the 2009 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fun­da­men­tal Catal­y­sis. The award con­sists of a plaque and a prize. The pur­pose of the Award is to rec­og­nize and encour­age indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions (under the age of 46) 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.

Since 1999 Manos has been with the Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal & Bio­log­i­cal Engi­neer­ing, Uni­ver­sity of Wis­con­sin — Madi­son. Manos is one of the world lead­ers in the area of com­pu­ta­tional chem­istry in catal­y­sis. He has also served as Vis­it­ing Pro­fes­sor, Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing, Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­sity of Den­mark, Lyn­gby, Den­mark. The pri­mary research focus of Manos’ group is the fun­da­men­tal under­stand­ing of sur­face reac­tiv­ity, using state-of-the-art first-principles meth­ods, and exten­sively col­lab­o­rat­ing with exper­i­men­tal experts. Manos has coau­thored more than 80 orig­i­nal pub­li­ca­tions. He is a mem­ber of the edi­to­r­ial board of Sur­face Sci­ence and of the Annual Review of Chem­i­cal & Bio­mol­e­c­u­lar Engi­neer­ing. Dr. Mavrikakis has pio­neered the use of Den­sity Func­tional The­ory (DFT) meth­ods in the screen­ing of pure and alloy metal cat­a­lysts to dis­cover which met­als or alloys have poten­tial to yield cat­a­lysts of improved activ­ity and/or selec­tiv­ity. Manos has been unique in hav­ing used the­o­ret­i­cal meth­ods to find new, inter­est­ing classes of sys­tems and site-nanostructures. Key to his suc­cess here was the use of fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples con­cern­ing the rela­tion­ships between the ener­get­ics of cer­tain key inter­me­di­ates and the acti­va­tion bar­ri­ers for the rate-controlling steps to make this screen­ing pro­ce­dure faster.

In par­tic­u­lar, Manos demon­strated that pos­si­bil­ity by iden­ti­fy­ing bimetal­lic alloys which bind atomic H as weakly as the noble met­als (Cu, Au), but are able to break the H-H bond in H2 more eas­ily than noble met­als. Such Near-Surface-Alloy (NSA) mate­ri­als are ideal for low tem­per­a­ture, highly selec­tive, H-transfer reac­tions (e.g., in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal pro­duc­tion), and energy related cat­alytic appli­ca­tions. Also, Manos’s group sys­tem­at­i­cally stud­ied Oxy­gen Reduc­tion Reac­tion (ORR) on a num­ber of late tran­si­tion met­als, includ­ing bimetal­lic and ternary alloys of Pt. The result of that work was the con­struc­tion of sta­ble, ternary NSAs, which con­tain much less Pt, and are up to a fac­tor of four more active than pure Pt ORR elec­tro­cat­a­lysts. Manos also has dis­cov­ered many inter­est­ing aspects of cat­alytic reac­tion mech­a­nisms that have inspired the field. In par­tic­u­lar, very recently Manos’ group has pro­posed a novel low-temperature reac­tion mech­a­nism for the pref­er­en­tial oxi­da­tion of CO in the pres­ence of H2, which explains the room-temperature reac­tiv­ity of Ru-Pt core-shell nanopar­ti­cles. The spe­cific nanopar­ti­cles were iden­ti­fied by Manos’ group from first-principles as very active and selec­tive PROX cat­a­lysts, and those pre­dic­tions were con­firmed upon syn­the­sis and cat­alytic test­ing of the Ru-core Pt-shell nanopar­ti­cles. Manos also fol­lowed up his detailed gas-phase methanol decom­po­si­tion DFT work with exper­i­ments and micro­ki­netic mod­el­ing, to show that one can accu­rately pre­dict exper­i­men­tal reac­tion rates directly from first prin­ci­ples. In the area of water gas shift catal­y­sis, his efforts have led to a com­pletely new water-gas shift reac­tion mech­a­nism involv­ing car­boxyl species on Cu, Pt, and Au sur­faces, which is quite gen­eral and may be applic­a­ble to other low tem­per­a­ture water-gas shift cat­a­lysts. Impor­tantly, this mech­a­nism is shown to be oper­a­tional under real­is­tic indus­trial water-gas shift conditions.

Manos will give a ple­nary lec­ture and be rec­og­nized at the 2009 North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety meet­ing in San Francisco.

The Paul H. Emmett Award in Fun­da­men­tal Catal­y­sis is spon­sored by the Davi­son Chem­i­cal Divi­sion of W.R. Grace and Com­pany. It is admin­is­tered by The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety and is awarded bien­ni­ally in odd num­bered years. More infor­ma­tion on this award, the awards process, and pre­vi­ous awardees can be found inside the Awards folder on the NACS home page:
John Armor
Award Cita­tion: For his elu­ci­da­tion of the fun­da­men­tal aspects of the sur­face chem­istry for well-established cat­alytic processes, and his lead­er­ship in the use of Den­sity func­tional The­ory to set direc­tions for future research in the search for new cat­a­lysts and new cat­alytic processes.