Professor Douglas Stephan- 2004 Ciapetta Lecturer

The 2004 F. G. Ciapetta Lectureship is awarded to Professor Douglas Stephan of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The F.G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis is cosponsored by Davison Catalyst, a business unit of W. R. Grace & Co and The North American Catalysis Society. 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. The Award consists of a plaque, an honorarium and additional money is available to cover traveling expenses to visit the local clubs. Local clubs should contact Professor Stephan directly to make travel arrangements.

Professor Stephan received his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario. He undertook a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at Harvard University before moving to the University of Windsor where he has spent his career doing research. Doug Stephan’s research group has been active for over 20 years in studying the fundamental organometallic chemistry of early transition metals. He has received many distinctions and honors for his accumulated accomplishments during the course of his studies, but it was his recent success in developing a novel set of catalysts for polymerizing ethylene that have earned Doug Stephan many accolades both in industrial circles and among his academic peers. This development is expected to have a major impact on the Canadian petrochemicals industry, which is a significant part of the manufacturing capability in this country. Stephan’s innovative approach to ancillary ligand design quickly led to dramatic findings of new patentable catalysts that were highly active under industrial conditions. NOVA Chemicals’ goal of developing new single site catalyst technologies was significantly advanced with the discoveries of potential new catalyst compounds from the Stephan labs. In collaboration with a team of chemists and engineers at NOVA Chemicals Stephan’s team worked to explore and develop these new catalyst families towards commercialization. Stephan and his group have continued to study the structure-reactivity relationship of these single-site catalysts. In addition, Stephan’s group has discovered and studied a number of unusual deactivation pathways that these new catalysts exhibit allowing optimization of process conditions. More recently, Stephan’s group has been studying modified systems that exhibit living catalyst behavior and their use in the formation of co- and block polymers. His new efforts are focused on developing new co-catalysts as well as strategies to late transition metal catalysts.

Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis Award for 2004

Nominations are now being accepted for the next Ciapetta Lectureship award given by the North American Catalysis Society. The award is described below.

The F.G. Ciapetta Lectureship in Catalysis is cosponsored by Davison Catalyst, a business unit of W. R. Grace & Co and The North American Catalysis Society. The Society administers this Lectureship. It is to be awarded biennially in even numbered years. The Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. An additional $4,500 is available to cover traveling expenses. The honorarium is provided completely by Davison.

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. The awardee will be 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.

Nominations should be submitted before 30 November 2003 to:
John N. Armor
President, North American Catalysis Society
1608 Barkwood Dr.
Orefield, PA 18069 USA or
FAX: 610-481-7719 (non-confidential fax line)
Assistant: Teri Hoppe
The nomination should include a cover letter by the nominator detailing the qualifications of the nominee. At least 1-2 seconding letters are helpful. A copy of the resume of the nominee should be included and any other relevant material to support the nomination. Selection will be made in December 2003-January 2004.

Obituary for Ipatieff Professor Robert L. Burwell

Robert L. Burwell, Jr., Ipatieff Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Northwestern University, will always be remembered by his many friends, colleagues, and students as a learned gentleman of high moral standard, a dedicated educator, and a thorough and brilliant researcher in heterogeneous catalysis. He was a leading figure in guiding the development of the catalysis community in the U.S. and the world. His many contributions to the community included serving on the governing body of the (North American) Catalysis Society from 1964 to 1977 as Director, Vice President, and in 1973-77, President. From 1955-84, he served on the Board of Director, as U.S Representative to the Congress, Vice President, and President (1980-84) of the International Congress on Catalysis. He chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Catalysis in 1957, and was Associate Editor and a member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Catalysis.

Robert Burwell received his Ph.D. in 1936 from Princeton University under the guidance of Sir Hugh Taylor. After three years as a Chemistry Instructor at Trinity College, in 1939 he joined the Chemistry Department at Northwestern University. Except for the World War II period from 1942 until 1945, when, having enlisted, he worked at the Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Burwell served at Northwestern until he retired in 1980. As Ipatieff Professor Emeritus, he continued his research and intellectual activities for another decade after retirement. During his career he published over 170 original research articles, served on National Research Council Committees, IUPAC Committees, the Petroleum Research Fund Advisory Board, the National Science Foundation Chemistry Advisory Board, and others, as well as Chairing the Chemistry Department at Northwestern University. In 1994, he moved to Virginia with Elise, his wife of over sixty years.

Professor Burwell was among the first scientists who understood the critical connection between general chemistry and catalysis. He introduced and popularized concepts that are now familiar to and even commonplace within the entire catalysis community. His research themes centered around elucidation of the reaction mechanisms, nature of surface intermediates, and characterization of active sites of solid catalysts. He was well known for the use of H-D exchange for such studies. Using this technique, he identified the importance of 1,2-diadsorbed alkane on noble metal surfaces in the exchange and the hydrogenation reaction, and the irreversibility in the adsorption of alkene during hydrogenation. He established the “rollover” mechanism for cyclic hydrocarbons in these reactions, and the term “surface organometallic zoo”. He carefully documented the importance of surface coordination unsaturation in catalysis by metal oxides, and developed new catalysts of unusual activities by deposition of organometallic complexes on alumina and silica, and by modifying silica surface.

His many scientific contributions and their industrial applications were recognized in his day, as evidenced by the many awards and honors he received. They included the ACS Kendall Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry, the Lubrizol Award in Petroleum Chemistry, and the Humboldt Senior Scientist Award. In addition, the Robert L. Burwell Lectureship Award of the (North American) Catalysis Society was established in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of catalysis. Professor Burwell was also known for the first short course in heterogeneous catalysis that he taught for several years together with Michel Boudart.

To those who knew him personally, Burwell was not only an imposing intellect, but a warm, deeply caring, pleasant person, a complicated person with many facets. For instance, while wise and judicious, he nevertheless conducted himself with a great sense of humor and wit. Any who he favored soon realized he could engage in lively conversation on practically any subject. Many of his coworkers also remembered him for his numerous perceptive scientific advice and suggestions. Very often in seminars, students felt that they learned more about a subject from his probing questions than the actual seminar itself. His family remembered him also as a caretaker extraordinaire. His devotion to his wife, particularly during the last year of her life, will be remembered by all.

Dr. Burwell was a walking encyclopedia—indeed he was scientific consultant to the World Book Encyclopedia. He read extensively on virtually every subject. He particularly enjoyed a commanding knowledge of the birds, flora and fauna and could be seen bird watching in the snowy early springs in Evanston. He enjoyed cultural matters and sharing of his knowledge with his colleagues, friends, and post-doctoral and graduate students, a trait he continued even after he retired to Virginia with his wife, where he became an active member of many local Virginia museums and a variety of genealogical societies (and a founder of the Computer Club and Wine Club at the retirement community). He was often expected to be the cultural guide for his group of friends on tours around the world. He particularly enjoyed teaching American culture and the nuances of the English language to his international post-doctoral and graduate students. Dr. Burwell loved to refer to the 4th of July as “the day we celebrate English becoming a foreign language”. He also possessed a cultivated taste for wine, and was proud of his collection of antique porcelain.

Perhaps the most appropriate reference to Robert Burwell was from Marie Westbrook, the Department Secretary of Chemistry at Northwestern, who referred to him always as “Mr. Burwell”, not as “Doctor” or “Professor”. When asked why, she replied: “A lot of people can become a Professor or a Doctor, and I use Mister just for him”. On May 15, Mr. Burwell passed away at the age of 91. He was buried on June 28th, 2003 in Christ Episcopal Church in West River, Maryland next to his beloved wife, Elise.

Prepared by Harold H. Kung, with contributions from Kathleen Taylor, Gary Haller, Polly Burwell Haynes, and Lou Allred.

IAES newsletter

The North American Catalysis Society is a member of the IACS: International Association of the Catalysis societies. A copy of their recent newsletter will be posted in the Newsletters folder on the NACS homepage.

The International Congress on Catalysis, Inc., a corporation of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., organized the first International Congress in Philadelphia in 1956 and participated in the planning of subsequent congresses in Paris in 1960 and Amsterdam in 1964, with the objective of furthering the science and technology of catalysis. In view of the continuing and growing interest in catalysis, it was agreed to establish an international organization originally called International Congress on Catalysis, but its name has been changed in 1996 to International Association of Catalysis Societies, IACS.

At regular meetings of the IACS Council, representatives from the participating catalysis societies participate in informative dialogue and discuss details related to the next International Catalysis Meeting (every 4 years). The NACS’ current representatives to these meetings is W. Curt Conner (Foreign Secretary) and John Armor (President). If you have any matters needing IACS attention you should bring it up with one of these two persons. In addition our former Foreign Secretary, Alex Bell, serves as the current Vice-President of the IACS.

In Memoriam: Paul Grange (1943-2003)

Paul Grange was born in Lyon during the war. He graduated from the University of Lyon, which, in 1970 granted him a PhD, for a work done at the Institut de Recherche sur la Catalyse, in Villeurbanne-Lyon. This was later followed by a post-doctoral position in the Laboratory of Catalysis and Solid State Chemistry in the then newly split Louvain University. In the course of years, the scientific activity of Professor Grange progressively shifted away from solid state chemistry, his initial interest during his PhD. Later his results in the synthesis of high transition temperature superconductors and outstanding success with highly dispersed nitrides, oxynitrides and the very original synthesis of more complicated compounds schematically represented by AlPON – ZrPON – AlGaPON – VAlON, made this background crucial. In the course of 31 years, he changed position no less than seven times. In spite of that, or because of that, he could manage to have some sort of a “sabbatical leave”, in 1983-1984, at INTEVEP in Caracas, a stay rich in fruitful teachings. The last change was in 1996, on his promotion to Full Professor (“Professeur Ordinaire”). From that time on, the remarkable dynamism of Professor Grange led him to combine fundamental research on selected advanced subjects of catalysis (especially oxynitrides, basic catalysis) with more application-oriented developments. In most cases the work was directly related to specific problems of industry, but nevertheless permitted the completion of 29 PhD theses and 43 graduate research programs, and the publication of 418 articles. Paul Grange engaged in an impressive development of activities, initiating co-operative programs in Belgium and with foreign universities (Bucharest, Tunis, Caen, Argentina), and creating one of the activity branches of CERTECH, a university subsidiary for applied research. In UCL, he became member of various committees, was selected as member of the Research Advisory Council of the university, where he was elected Chairman of the Department of Applied Chemistry and Bio-Industries a few days before his death. In less than seven years Paul Grange was able to fully develop his broad capacities. He certainly felt that as a deserved compensation after many years of uncertainties. But the price was worries and work overload, with that terrible end in July.
Written by B. Delmon (original text has been abreviated)

Nominations for IACS’ International Catalysis Award

Nominations for IACS’ International Catalysis Award are now being accepted until 15 September 2003. The award is sponsored by the IACS and presented to the recipient at the ICC meetings, every 4 years. The purpose of the Award is to recognize and encourage individual contributions by a young scientist in the field of catalysis, such as the discovery or significant improvement of a catalytic process, or an important contribution to the understanding of catalytic phenomena. The Award consists of a certificate and a financial reward (ten times the registration fee for the ICC meeting). The recipient must not have passed his/her 45th birthday by May 1, 2003 and will be required to give a lecture on their research as part of the 13 ICC meeting.

Nomination documents should be sent to the President of the IACS
Michel Che
Universite’ Pierre et Marie Curie
Laboratoire de Reactivite de Surface, casier 178
4 place Jussieu
75252 Paris Cedex 05, FRANCE

Israel Wachs wins AIChE Award

Professor Israel E. Wachs of the Chemical Engineering Department of Lehigh University is this year’s recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE) Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division Practice Award, which will be presented at the Annual AIChE meeting in San Francisco the week of November 16-21, 2003. The AIChE C&RE Practice Award recognizes individuals who have made pioneering contributions to industrial practice of catalysis and chemical reaction engineering and is sponsored by Merck & Company, Inc.

Professor Wachs is being recognized for his commercial developments of novel catalysts and reaction engineering applications in the areas of:

  1. o-xylene oxidation to phthalic anhydride over supported promoted-V2O5/TiO2 catalysts.
  2. Methanol oxidation to formaldehyde over bulk metal oxide catalysts.
  3. A new environmental catalytic process that converts undesirable waste gases from pulp mills to valuable chemicals (H2CO, H2SO4, terpenes) and simultaneously eliminates significant polluting emissions of VOCs, NOx, SOx and CO2.

C&E News features Cancun meeting report

Chemical & Engineering News has a 5 page article by Mitch Jacoby in the July 7, 2003 issue (pp. 18-22) [], which highlights our recent Cancun National meeting. Paticular focus is given to the plenary award lectures by Professors Corma and Zaera. Mitch concludes, “A week in summy Cancun sounds more like vacation than work… But truth be told, the catalysis meeting was business as usual, with researches talking shop everywhere- even on the beach.”

Enrique Iglesia wins Wilhelm Award

Professor Enrique Iglesia of the University of California at Berkeley has received the 2003 R.H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering from the AIChE. This award is sponsored by ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company and recognizes an individual’s significant and new contribution in chemical reaction engineering. As a member of the AIChE, the recipient is expected to have advanced the frontiers of chemical reaction engineering through originality, creativity, and novelty of concept or application.

US Trade Commission issues report on Catalysis

In a recently released report from the US International Trade Commission, USITC Publication 3602 [available on the web at note you need only print pages 25-44], describes catalysts as an innovative industry responding to technological and competitive challenges. The article describes the basic characteristics of catalysts, their principle commercial applications, the structure of the industry, major challenges facing the industry; and prospective future applications. In the section on Barriers to Commercialization, the author notes, “The mere fact that a new catalyst shows promising technical properties does not guarantee that the newer catalytic technology will supersede the older technology as rapidly as expected, especially if the traditional technology is recognized as being reliable and well chacterized.”