In Memoriam: John R. Monnier (1948–2024)

Dr. John R. Mon­nier passed away on April 6, 2024 at the age of 76. John was Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Car­oli­na, which he joined in 2004 after retir­ing as a Tech­nol­o­gy Fel­low at the East­man Chem­i­cal Com­pa­ny in Kingsport, Ten­nessee. 

John grad­u­at­ed with a bachelor’s degree in chem­istry from St. Ambrose Col­lege in Dav­en­port, Iowa, and a master’s in Het­ero­ge­neous Catal­y­sis at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Mil­wau­kee with Prof. George W. Keulks in the area of cat­alyt­ic olefin epox­i­da­tion, in 1972. There­after, John began his pro­fes­sion­al career in the Cor­po­rate Research Lab­o­ra­to­ries of East­man Kodak Com­pa­ny in Rochester, NY. He returned to UW-Mil­wau­kee in 1976 on an aca­d­e­m­ic leave of absence and received his Ph.D. in Het­ero­ge­neous Catal­y­sis in 1978, again with Prof. Keulks. John resumed his work at East­man Kodak in Rochester, and trans­ferred in 1993 to East­man Chem­i­cal in Kingsport, where he worked until his retire­ment from indus­try.

Dr. Monnier’s study of the epox­i­da­tion of high­er olefins began in 1986, and cul­mi­nat­ed in his dis­cov­ery of a cat­a­lyst sys­tem which selec­tive­ly epox­i­dizes buta­di­ene to 3,4‑epoxybutene using mol­e­c­u­lar oxy­gen in the gas phase, which rep­re­sent­ed the first advance­ment of olefin epox­i­da­tion using mol­e­c­u­lar oxy­gen in more than 50 years. This work was rec­og­nized in 1988 with the C. E. K. Mees Award, giv­en annu­al­ly for the most out­stand­ing research con­duct­ed at Kodak Research Lab­o­ra­to­ries. In 1993, he was named Out­stand­ing Researcher for the North­east Ten­nessee Divi­sion of the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety. 

Com­mer­cial­ized in 1997, the epox­i­da­tion of buta­di­ene, and down­stream trans­for­ma­tion of epoxy­butene, uses sev­er­al nov­el cat­alyt­ic process­es, includ­ing the iso­mer­iza­tion reac­tions of epoxy­butene to 2,5‑dihydrofuran and 2,5‑dihydrofuran to 2,3‑dihydrofuran, as well as the remark­ably selec­tive hydro­gena­tion of epoxy­butene to epoxybu­tane. Mon­nier is either the sole or co-dis­cov­er­er of each of these reac­tions, for which he received more than 25 patents.

The acco­lades for Dr. Monnier’s research and devel­op­ment in epox­i­da­tion con­tin­ued in force. In 1998, he was named Out­stand­ing Indus­tri­al Inno­va­tor by the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety. In 2000, Mon­nier received the Her­man Pines Award from the Chica­go Catal­y­sis Club. He was award­ed the 2002 Cia­pet­ta Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis, one of the four major bien­ni­al awards of the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. 

The pro­gres­sion of John’s phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ty – he had mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy – pre­cip­i­tat­ed a move from indus­try to acad­e­mia in 2004. At the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Car­oli­na in Colum­bia, SC, John excelled at the new call­ing of men­tor­ing grad­u­ate stu­dents, apply­ing his unpar­al­leled com­bi­na­tion of indus­tri­al rel­e­vance, prac­ti­cal knowl­edge, intense wit, and self-effac­ing humor. Though in a wheel­chair, John’s spir­it soared; com­ing down the hall­way his rau­cous voice was always heard before he was seen.

At USC, John con­tin­ued his work in epox­i­da­tion catal­y­sis, achiev­ing a new under­stand­ing of the elec­tron­ic role of alka­li pro­mot­ers. He devel­oped a new method to syn­the­size sup­port­ed bimetal­lic nanopar­ti­cles based on elec­tro­less depo­si­tion, a process he had seen employed at Kodak on bulk mate­ri­als, and he con­tin­ued to refine char­ac­ter­i­za­tion meth­ods includ­ing in-situ x‑ray dif­frac­tion and chemisorp­tion. John’s indus­tri­al back­ground and exper­tise in het­ero­ge­neous cat­a­lyst prepa­ra­tion, char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, and eval­u­a­tion lent great cre­dence to USC’s NSF-sup­port­ed indus­tri­al con­sor­tium, the Cen­ter for Ratio­nal Cat­a­lyst Syn­the­sis (CeR­CaS). 

And the nation­al awards did not stop. In 2017, John received the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Chem­i­cal Engineer’s Chem­i­cal and Reac­tion Engi­neer­ing Prac­tice Award, and most sig­nif­i­cant­ly in 2017, Pro­fes­sor Mon­nier was induct­ed into the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Engi­neer­ing. In 2022, John received the Excel­lence in Catal­y­sis Award from the Philadel­phia Catal­y­sis Soci­ety.

In his twen­ty years at USC, Dr. Mon­nier advised twen­ty-two Ph.D. stu­dents and numer­ous vis­it­ing schol­ars, post­docs, and under­grad­u­ate stu­dents. These mentees and his aca­d­e­m­ic and indus­tri­al col­leagues and staff will remem­ber John with tremen­dous affec­tion as a bril­liant cat­alyt­ic sci­en­tist whose numer­ous accom­plish­ments and acco­lades were always exceed­ed by his humil­i­ty and his human­i­ty.
JR Regal­b­u­to
April 11, 2024

Travel Award for Attending the 18th ICC — Extended Deadline

The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety is excit­ed to announce sup­ple­men­tal fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for atten­dees of the 18th Inter­na­tion­al Con­gress on Catal­y­sis (18th ICC), sched­uled for July 14–19, 2024, in Lyon, France. This ini­tia­tive is gen­er­ous­ly sup­port­ed by fed­er­al agen­cies, includ­ing the NSF and DOE. Can­di­dates need to be cur­rent­ly enrolled in US research insti­tu­tions.
Pur­pose of Fund­ing:
These funds are allo­cat­ed to par­tial­ly reim­burse flight and reg­is­tra­tion expens­es.
Pri­or­i­ty Can­di­dates:
1. Fac­ul­ty mem­bers with­in their first four years of lad­der-rank appoint­ments, active­ly engaged in catal­y­sis research at U.S. insti­tu­tions.
2. Post­doc­tor­al researchers and grad­u­ate stu­dents with­in U.S. insti­tu­tions who will present oral or poster con­tri­bu­tions at the 18th ICC.
Appli­ca­tion Dead­line Extend­ed to March 31st, 2024.
Call for Nom­i­na­tions:
We encour­age self-nom­i­na­tions of fac­ul­ty mem­bers, as well as nom­i­na­tions of eli­gi­ble post­docs and grad­u­ate stu­dents by their research advi­sors. Your par­tic­i­pa­tion in and con­tri­bu­tions to the 18th ICC are impor­tant for high­light­ing the research efforts from the US catal­y­sis com­mu­ni­ty.
Please use the link below to sub­mit your appli­ca­tion.

Announcement of 2023 Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis

I am pleased to announce that Pro­fes­sor Umit Ozkan of the Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty is the recip­i­ent of the 2023 Robert Bur­well Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis, spon­sored by John­son Matthey and admin­is­tered by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. It is award­ed bien­ni­al­ly in odd-num­bered years. The award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­i­um of $5,000, which will be pre­sent­ed at the award ban­quet at the NAM28 meet­ing. An addi­tion­al $4,500 is avail­able to cov­er trav­el­ling expens­es in North Amer­i­ca. The awardee is expect­ed to lec­ture at many of the local catal­y­sis clubs.

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. The awardee is select­ed on the basis of his/her con­tri­bu­tions to the cat­alyt­ic lit­er­a­ture and the cur­rent time­li­ness of these research con­tri­bu­tions. The recip­i­ent may be 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. Pub­li­ca­tion will be in an appro­pri­ate peri­od­i­cal.

Pro­fes­sor Umit Ozkan is rec­og­nized for her pio­neer­ing work that bridged the het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis and elec­tro­catal­y­sis fields.  Her group was the first to show that nitro­gen-doped car­bon nanos­truc­tures (CNx) had promis­ing oxy­gen reduc­tion reac­tion (ORR) activ­i­ty in acidic medi­um. Com­bin­ing spec­troscopy tech­niques, met­al-free syn­the­sis meth­ods, and probe mol­e­cules, they were able to iden­ti­fy the active sites and pro­vide a mech­a­nis­tic under­stand­ing of the ORR. Recent­ly, her group has also been explor­ing the use of CNx mate­ri­als as oxy­gen depo­lar­ized cath­ode elec­trodes as well as in bromine evo­lu­tion reac­tions. Ozkan also expand­ed her work to mid-tem­per­a­ture elec­tro­catal­y­sis in sol­id oxide elec­trolyt­ic cells for appli­ca­tions such as oxida­tive dehy­dro­gena­tion of low­er alka­nes or oxida­tive cou­pling of methane as well as co-elec­trol­y­sis of CO2 and H2O on per­ovskites. More recent­ly, they have been work­ing on mid-tem­per­a­ture elec­tro­cat­alyt­ic NH3 pro­duc­tion from N2 and H2O, pro­vid­ing a route for dis­trib­uted NH3 pro­duc­tion as an alter­na­tive to the Haber-Bosch process. Dr. Ozkan’s con­tri­bu­tions to het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis include stud­ies in oxi­da­tion catal­y­sis, envi­ron­men­tal catal­y­sis, hydro­gena­tion and hydrogenol­y­sis reac­tions as well as reform­ing reac­tions. In all of these stud­ies, her focus has been under­stand­ing the nature of active sites and tai­lor­ing the sur­face prop­er­ties to achieve desired cat­alyt­ic func­tions.

Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety

Johannes Lercher is the recipient of the 2023 Michel Boudart Award for the Advancement of Catalysis

I am pleased to announce that Pro­fes­sor Johannes Lercher of TU München and PNNL is the recip­i­ent of the 2023 Michel Boudart Award for the Advance­ment of Catal­y­sis. The Award is spon­sored by the Hal­dor Top­søe Com­pa­ny, and is admin­is­tered joint­ly by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety and the Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties. It is award­ed bien­ni­al­ly in odd-num­bered years. Pro­fes­sor Lercher will give ple­nary lec­tures at the meet­ings of the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM) and the Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties (EuropaCat). The award con­sists of a plaque and a prize of $6,000. The plaque will be pre­sent­ed dur­ing the clos­ing ban­quet cer­e­monies at the 2023 North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM28 in Prov­i­dence).

The Michel Boudart 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.

Pro­fes­sor Lercher is rec­og­nized for sem­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions to define and quan­ti­fy the cen­ters that bind react­ing mol­e­cules, to char­ac­ter­ize the envi­ron­ment around these cen­ters, and to quan­ti­fy the impact that the sol­id and/or mobile envi­ron­ment has on the react­ing mol­e­cules. Address­ing this com­plex­i­ty required pio­neer­ing work in char­ac­ter­iz­ing “simul­ta­ne­ous­ly” the sol­id as well as mobile phase under con­di­tions rel­e­vant for the cat­alyt­ic trans­for­ma­tion. The approach enabled, how­ev­er, to tie togeth­er under­stand­ing of the impact of liq­uid-sol­id inter­faces on the react­ing mol­e­cules and the addi­tion­al influ­ences by exter­nal elec­tric poten­tials. The pro­found analy­sis of the cat­alyt­ic phe­nom­e­na at the micro­scop­ic lev­el, study­ing the influ­ence of short- and long-range inter­ac­tions between the reac­tant mol­e­cules and the sol­id cat­a­lysts has strong­ly influ­enced our way to under­stand how reac­tions occur on sol­id cat­a­lysts. The holis­tic approach link­ing advanced physic­o­chem­i­cal char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of cat­a­lysts and their action with detailed kinet­ic analy­ses has opened a new par­a­digm to catal­y­sis research.

Please join me in con­grat­u­lat­ing Pro­fes­sor Lercher!
Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety

Announcement of 2023–2024 Paul H. Emmett Award Winners

I am pleased to announce the win­ners of the 2023–2024 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fun­da­men­tal Catal­y­sis. This award rec­og­nizes and encour­ages 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. The award win­ner must not have turned 46 on April 1st of the award year. The award is spon­sored by WR Grace & Co and man­aged 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 2023 North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM28), sched­uled to be held on June 18–23, 2023, in Prov­i­dence. The awardees will also present a Ple­nary Lec­ture at the NAM meet­ing.

The NACS Board has recent­ly approved to hon­or up to two Emmett awardees every two years. The two awardees for the 2023–2024 cycle are (list­ed alpha­bet­i­cal­ly):

2023 Win­ner: Pro­fes­sor Aditya Bhan, Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta
2024 Win­ner: Pro­fes­sor Yuriy Román-Leshkov, Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy

Professor Aditya BhanPro­fes­sor Aditya Bhan and his group are rec­og­nized for bring­ing ana­lyt­i­cal for­malisms and detailed exper­i­men­ta­tion to elic­it kinet­ic and mech­a­nis­tic infor­ma­tion, ver­i­fied against ther­mo­dy­nam­ic mea­sure­ments and stric­tures, into hydro­car­bon reac­tion sys­tems of sig­nif­i­cant com­plex­i­ty and prac­ti­cal util­i­ty. His group has pro­vid­ed crit­i­cal insight into how and why cat­alyt­ic process­es occur, both as they form desired prod­ucts and as they lead to uns­e­lec­tive or deac­ti­vat­ing side paths for a num­ber of impor­tant indus­tri­al cat­alyt­ic process­es includ­ing methanol-to-hydro­car­bons catal­y­sis, non-oxida­tive and oxida­tive alka­ne con­ver­sion, par­tial oxi­da­tion of olefins, hydrodeoxy­gena­tion, and dehy­dra­tion. These stud­ies have brought con­cepts of chem­i­cal kinet­ics and ther­mo­dy­nam­ics to derive fun­da­men­tal insights into catal­y­sis on zeo­lites, car­bides, oxides, met­als, and MOFs. His group has brought new con­cepts and def­i­n­i­tions to the kinet­ic analy­sis of het­ero­ge­neous cat­alyt­ic sys­tems in devel­op­ing a kinet­ic descrip­tion of site ensem­bles on cat­alyt­ic sur­faces, in demon­strat­ing rate func­tions of an over­all reac­tion with many ele­men­tary steps can be writ­ten in a form anal­o­gous to the micro­scop­ic law of mass action, and in devel­op­ing math­e­mat­i­cal mod­els describ­ing rates and reversibil­i­ty in com­plex reac­tion net­works.

Professor Yuriy Román-LeshkovPro­fes­sor Yuriy Román-Leshkov and his group com­bines cat­a­lyst syn­the­sis, kinet­ic stud­ies, and reac­tor design to study chem­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions relat­ed to the sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion of fuels and chem­i­cals. A dis­tinc­tive focus has been the design of reac­tive envi­ron­ments in sol­id cat­a­lysts to improve activ­i­ty and selec­tiv­i­ty by using elec­tric fields, con­fine­ment, and site coop­er­a­tiv­i­ty as means to con­trol reac­tion rates. His work on Lewis acid zeo­lites has improved our under­stand­ing of how the met­al cen­ter, intra­pore con­fine­ment of reactants/solvents, and frame­work polar­i­ty influ­ence rates for the con­ver­sion of bio-derived oxy­genates in the liq­uid phase. This includes trans­fer hydro­gena­tions, iso­mer­iza­tion-lac­toniza­tion sequences, and C‑C cou­pling reac­tions of car­bo­hy­drates, furan-deriv­a­tives, and keto-acids, to pro­duce a wide range of val­ue-added chem­i­cals. Yuriy has made impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the areas of sus­tain­able avi­a­tion fuels and plas­tic waste decon­struc­tion through his work on selec­tive hydrodeoxy­gena­tion of lignin into aro­mat­ics and hydrogenol­y­sis of poly­olefinic plas­tic waste with earth-abun­dant cat­a­lysts. Last­ly, his col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts to bridge con­cepts in ther­mo- and elec­tro­catal­y­sis have result­ed in foun­da­tion­al insights into how inter­fa­cial elec­tric fields influ­ence ther­mo­chem­i­cal reac­tion rates even for sys­tems dis­con­nect­ed from exter­nal wiring.
Con­grat­u­la­tions to Pro­fes­sor Bhan and Pro­fes­sor Román-Leshkov!
Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety

Stephen R. Schmidt is the recipient of the 2023 Eugene J. Houdry Award in Applied Catalysis

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Stephen R. Schmidt of W.R. Grace is the recip­i­ent of the 2023 Eugene J. Houdry Award in Applied Catal­y­sis. This award is spon­sored by Clari­ant and is admin­is­tered by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. The award con­sists of a plaque and a prize of $5,000. The plaque will be pre­sent­ed dur­ing the clos­ing ban­quet cer­e­monies at the 2023 North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM28 in Prov­i­dence).

The pur­pose of the Eugene J. Houdry Award is to rec­og­nize and encour­age indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on the devel­op­ment of new and improved cat­a­lysts and process­es rep­re­sent­ing out­stand­ing advances in their use­ful appli­ca­tions.

Dr. Stephen R. Schmidt, Research Fel­low at W.R. Grace, has been with the com­pa­ny since 1985. The cen­ter­piece of Steve’s career has been acquir­ing lead­ing exper­tise in hydro­gena­tion catal­y­sis and apply­ing it to the devel­op­ment of new Raney® base met­al cat­a­lysts. These cat­a­lysts are crit­i­cal to the pro­duc­tion of large vol­ume chem­i­cals such as the diamine monomer of Nylon 6,6, toluene diamine monomer for polyurethanes, the diol monomer of elas­tane (i.e., Span­dex®) and sug­ar alco­hols. They are also robust in both fixed bed and slur­ry reac­tor appli­ca­tions. Steve has also con­tributed to the sci­ence of char­ac­ter­iz­ing the sur­faces of these unique cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als, by devel­op­ing pro­to­cols for con­tend­ing with nascent hydro­gen asso­ci­at­ed with Raney® cat­a­lysts. He has also made ground-break­ing con­tri­bu­tions to mul­ti-metal­lic Raney® cat­a­lysts includ­ing pre­cious met­al-mod­i­fied Raney® cat­a­lysts and Fe-mod­i­fied Raney® cat­a­lysts. Steve’s career bridges across sev­er­al busi­ness units at Grace, includ­ing the devel­op­ment of high sur­face area sil­i­ca, alu­mi­na, rare earths, and sup­ports for poly­mer­iza­tion and auto­mo­tive exhaust cat­a­lysts. A hall­mark of Steve’s career is his col­lab­o­ra­tive approach that has facil­i­tat­ed the devel­op­ment of new tech­nol­o­gy for both the cat­a­lyst man­u­fac­tur­er and the pur­chas­er of his company’s cat­a­lyst prod­ucts.
Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, NACS

Stuart Soled is the recipient of the 2023 NACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Catalysis

Stu­art (Stu) L. Soled

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Stu­art Soled of Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing is the recip­i­ent of the 2023 NACS Award for Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice in the Advance­ment of Catal­y­sis. This award is joint­ly spon­sored by Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing and Clari­ant, and is admin­is­tered by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. The award con­sists of a plaque and a prize of $5,000. The plaque will be pre­sent­ed dur­ing the clos­ing ban­quet cer­e­monies at the 2023 North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NAM28 in Prov­i­dence).

The NACS Award for Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice in the Advance­ment of Catal­y­sis rec­og­nizes an indi­vid­ual who advanced cat­alyt­ic chem­istry or engi­neer­ing by sig­nif­i­cant ser­vice to the catal­y­sis com­mu­ni­ty in addi­tion to tech­ni­cal accom­plish­ments.

States­man­ship, schol­ar­ship, and ser­vice to our com­mu­ni­ty describe the career of Stu Soled. From the trench­es of indus­try, he has led in mat­ters of sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, and ped­a­gogy, while men­tor­ing stu­dents in indus­try and acad­e­mia. His elo­quent lec­tures pro­vide a mod­el of rig­or in the prac­tice of catal­y­sis, but also show the growth of human tal­ent is insep­a­ra­ble from research achieve­ments. His broad tech­no­log­i­cal impact (100+ patents) and con­cep­tu­al con­tri­bu­tions to the schol­ar­ly lit­er­a­ture are out­stand­ing.

His nur­tur­ing and guid­ance in the evo­lu­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic cen­ters, projects, and staff illus­trate how Stu works to advance research and teach­ing in aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions. His men­tor­ship at Exxon­Mo­bil is leg­endary; it has served to bridge demo­graph­ic gaps and changes in strate­gic direc­tions and to main­tain a cul­ture of rig­or. His con­tri­bu­tions to pre­serve and dis­sem­i­nate the his­to­ry of catal­y­sis, painstak­ing­ly gath­ered by Burt Davis over decades required hun­dreds of hours of edit­ing and con­vert­ing video­graph­ic media into acces­si­ble forms. Near­ly 2000 videos, cov­er­ing more than 50 years of lec­tures and inter­views, are now avail­able at the “Video His­to­ry of Catal­y­sis” YouTube chan­nel. This serves as a repos­i­to­ry of our community’s sto­ried his­to­ry of sci­en­tif­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal achieve­ments.

Stu Soled rep­re­sents, in spir­it and impact, the def­i­n­i­tion of ser­vice.
Jing­guang Chen
NACS Pres­i­dent

In Memoriam: Kenzi Tamaru (1923–2020)

Kenzi Tamaru — A “titan of mechanism” who initiated the in-situ study of catalysts

On July 22, 2020, the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty lost Ken­zi Tamaru, a pio­neer in elu­ci­dat­ing the mech­a­nisms of het­ero­ge­neous cat­alyt­ic reac­tions. His endur­ing lega­cy will be his insight that cat­a­lysts have to be stud­ied at reac­tion con­di­tions. This insight was the basis for the now wide­spread use of in situ and operan­do stud­ies in catal­y­sis.

Ken­zi Tamaru was born in Kamaku­ra, Japan on Nov. 2, 1923, and was edu­cat­ed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo, obtain­ing his B.S. in 1946, and his Ph.D. in 1950. In 1953 he was award­ed a Full­bright Fel­low­ship and went to work with Sir Hugh Tay­lor at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty where he stayed until 1956. In Prince­ton Ken­zi stud­ied the decom­po­si­tion of ger­mane and got the insight of the need to study cat­a­lysts at reac­tion con­di­tions. When he told Prof. Tay­lor of this con­cept he said “You are very ambi­tious”, repeat­ing it, “You are very ambi­tious”. On return­ing to Japan, Ken­zi start­ed research on adsorp­tion dur­ing catal­y­sis, first at Yoko­hama Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty, and then at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo. In Adv. Catal. 15 (1965) 65–90, he stat­ed “The state of the sur­face which cat­alyzes reac­tions is not that of the sur­face in the absence of reac­tants. The prop­er­ties of a cat­a­lyst sur­face to be stud­ied should be those in the work­ing state.” Today, the need to study cat­a­lysts at in situ con­di­tions is uni­ver­sal­ly rec­og­nized and is applied reg­u­lar­ly using spec­tro­scop­ic and tran­sient tech­niques. Ken­zi Tamaru liked to tell his stu­dents, “You have a good head, so think care­ful­ly”. This think­ing was evi­dent in him at an ear­ly stage. His grade school teacher recalled that when stu­dents were asked to name some­thing that would not burn most stu­dents answered with things like stones or steel. Kenzi’s unique answer was “ash­es”. Ken­zi Tamaru’s appli­ca­tion of what he liked to call “the Tamaru Method”, includ­ed in situ stud­ies of MeOH decom­po­si­tion on ZnO and Cr2O3, NH3 decom­po­si­tion on W and Mo, and CO hydro­gena­tion on Ru, and the phe­nom­e­non of adsorp­tion-assist­ed des­orp­tion. Ken­zi had close friend­ships with many dis­tin­guished indi­vid­u­als in the field, notably Michel Boudart, Wolf­gang Sachtler, and Guo Xiex­i­an, with whom he shared a com­mon inter­est in chem­i­cal kinet­ics as well as per­son­al rela­tions. Ken­zi Tamaru held many impor­tant posi­tions includ­ing the pres­i­den­cies of the Japan Chem­i­cal Soci­ety in 1989–1990, and the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties in 1988–1992. He was rec­og­nized with many awards, includ­ing the Japan Chem­i­cal Soci­ety Award in 1974, the Pur­ple Agate in 1985, and the Japan Acad­e­my Award in 2000.

His pres­ence will be missed but his con­tri­bu­tions will endure.

Sourav Sengupta is the recipient of the 2022 F. G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Sourav Sen­gup­ta of DuPont is the recip­i­ent of the 2022 F. G. Cia­pet­ta Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis. The award is admin­is­tered by the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety and spon­sored by the W. R. Grace & Co. It is to be award­ed bien­ni­al­ly in even-num­bered years. The award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­i­um of $5,000. The recip­i­ent may be invit­ed to lec­ture at some of the local catal­y­sis clubs dur­ing the two-year peri­od cov­ered by this award.

Dr. Sourav Sen­gup­ta, a DuPont Lau­re­ate, has been with DuPont for over 30 years. He has made numer­ous indus­tri­al­ly-impact­ful con­tri­bu­tions in cat­a­lyst syn­the­sis, reac­tion engi­neer­ing, and process devel­op­ment, rang­ing from gaso­line to advanced mate­ri­als. Through­out his career he has invent­ed, inno­vat­ed, and imple­ment­ed a pletho­ra of new process­es and prod­ucts includ­ing, a cheap­er and inher­ent­ly safer process for the syn­the­sis of an aramid monomer; a mod­u­lar, on-site and on-demand HCN man­u­fac­tur­ing process, using induc­tion heat­ing to direct­ly heat Pt-Rh gauze cat­a­lyst; a nov­el fixed bed hydro­gena­tion reac­tor tech­nol­o­gy to man­u­fac­ture a key inter­me­di­ate used in the syn­the­sis of an inhala­tion anes­thet­ic; and a high­er activ­i­ty sul­fu­ric acid cat­a­lyst. Sourav and his team have more recent­ly invent­ed bio­mass hydrodeoxy­gena­tion cat­a­lysts for con­vert­ing cel­lu­lose-derived mol­e­cules to alpha-omega diols by opti­miz­ing bicom­po­nent coop­er­a­tiv­i­ty in sur­face reac­tions and har­ness­ing the influ­ence of water to reduce acti­va­tion bar­ri­ers. They also resolved a chal­leng­ing cat­a­lyst deac­ti­va­tion prob­lem for furan hydro­gena­tion and improved cat­a­lyst pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the Bio-THF process. A col­lab­o­ra­tive leader and a great team play­er, Sourav knows how to get results by solv­ing plant and process-relat­ed prob­lems, com­bin­ing an in-depth knowl­edge of the fun­da­men­tals of sci­ence with a keen sense of detail and a cre­ative approach to work.
Jing­guang Chen
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety