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 www.usitc.gov/ittr.htm- 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.”

Bylaws of the NACS, June 2003

The members in attendance on prior to the beginning of the first plenary lecture of the National meeting in Cancun were asked to vote on the minor changes proposed to the existing bylaws of the NACS. A summary of these changes and the new bylaws have been posted on the web site since last April. The President summarized the changes, which were mostly procedural and reflected minor changes in the way the Society has been operating since the last revisions in 1995. The members overwhelmingly approved the changes by both a voice vote and a printed ballot.
Click here to view the entire document in PDF format

Changes proposed to NACS Bylaws

The Board of Directors of the North American Catalysis Society has discussed, edited, and accepted the proposed changes to the bylaws. Our bylaws also require that any changes to them be voted on by the membership of the NACS, which we shall do at the beginning of the Cancun meeting. These changes are mainly proposed to reflect modest changes in the operations of the NACS since the last bylaws were adopted (1995). The Board of Directors is responsible for the management of the NACS and the President of the NACS is the CEO of the NACS. Provisions exist for making procedural changes to the way the NACS operates, but these often don’t get added to the bylaws; this new set of bylaws reflects the way the Society is currently operating. The entire set of bylaws (10 pages with 25 Articles) is posted on the web site for all to review; I will only discuss the procedural changes made to the 1995 bylaws.

  • Article II, section 6 describes the status of Associate (non-voting) members.
  • Article II, section 7 and Article XI, section 3 defines the legal and tax status of the NACS and its clubs.
  • Article VII, describes financial bonding of the officers and the trustees
  • Article VIII, section 1 extends the number of voting members of the Board of Directors, while Article XV, sections 2 and 3 define voting procedures at the Board meetings.
  • Article XIII, section 1 and Article XVII, section 1 describe the appointment of a Nominating Committee for election of officers. Section 5 elaborates the line of ascension in the event the President can no longer serve.
  • Article XVII, sections 3 and 4 describes the composition and operation of the Executive Committee.
  • Article XVII, section 5 and Article XXII describes the composition and selection of the Awards Committee.
  • Article XXIII describes the Keith Hall Educational Fund.
  • Articles XXIV and XXV are added at the suggestion of our attorney to meet laws of incorporation.

Prepared by John Armor, President
Originally posted on 3/18/2003
At the Board of Director’s meeting in Cancun on June 1, 2003, the Board of Directors approved one additional change in wording to Article XVII, section 4, so it now reads: The President may call a meeting of the Executive Committee to seek its advice.
Click here to view the entire document in PDF format

Stu Soled wins Excellence in Catalysis Award from NY Club

The Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York is pleased to announce the Excellence in Catalysis Award for 2003, to Dr. Stuart L. Soled

This award recognizes Dr. Soled’s contributions in the areas of materials synthesis and catalysis research culminating in the development of the now commercial Nebula family of catalysts for the environmentally important production of ultralow sulfur diesel fuel. In addition, Dr. Soled has made significant contributions to Exxon’s AGC-21 process for the synthesis of liquid fuels from natural gas.

NSF awards available for Kokes Student travel to Cancun

A grant to assist student attendance at the North American Catalysis Society (NACS) Meeting in Cancun, Mexico has been awarded by The National Science Foundation. The date of the meeting is from June 1-6th, 2003. The grant will be administered by Tulane University, New Orleans, La. These funds are in addition to those independently provided by the NACS for this same purpose (Kokes Awards). Those who already sent their application to the NAM organizers in Cancun should not have to send another one to Professor Gonzalez.

Successful awardees for this NSF money must meet the following criteria: (i) they should be graduate students in good standing at an academic institution in the United States, (ii) preference will be given to students with an accepted oral or poster paper and, (iii) students will be expected to participate in as many technical sessions as possible.

Interested candidates for these awards should submit an application to Professor Richard D Gonzalez, Department of Chemical Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, La 70118. Tulane University is an Affirmative Action Employer and is committed to ethnic diversity including minority applicants. If awarded, these grants may be used only for transportation to and from Cancun and for hotel occupancy. The deadline date for receipt of any new NSF supported applications is April 30, 2003; this deadline is a little later than the NAM Kokes Award dates for the same purpose, which was based on earlier funding by the North American Catalysis Society. The award panels for both the NSF and NACS sponsored Kokes awards will be working together.

NOTE- the full technical program can be read on the Cancun NAM website- click on any session number in the table of week-long symposia.

Grand Challenges in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

The National Research Council’s Board on Chemical Science & Technology has published a very interesting report entitled “Beyond the Molecular Frontier.” The full report can be read on their web site and portions can be copied at http://www.nap.edu/books/0309084776/html/. Here are some provocative themes they identified, several of which involve catalysis.

  • Learn how to synthesize and manufacture any new substance that can have scientific or practical interest, using compact synthetic schemes and processes with high selectivity for the desired product, and with low energy consumption and benign environmental effects in the process. This goal will require continuing progress in the development of new methods for synthesis and manufacturing. Human welfare will continue to benefit from new substances, including medicines and specialized materials.
  • Develop new materials and measurement devices that will protect citizens against terrorism, accident, crime, and disease, in part by detecting and identifying dangerous substances and organisms using methods with high sensitivity and selectivity. Rapid and reliable detection of dangerous disease organisms, highly toxic chemicals, and concealed explosives (including those in land mines) is the first important step in responding to threats. The next important step for chemists and chemical engineers will be to devise methods to deal with such threats, including those involved in terrorist or military attacks.
  • Understand and control how molecules react–over all time scales and the full range of molecular size. This fundamental understanding will let us design new reactions and manufacturing processes and will provide fundamental insights into the science of chemistry. Major advances that will contribute to this goal over the next decades include the predictive computational modeling of molecular motions using large-scale parallel processing arrays; the ability to investigate and manipulate individual molecules, not just collections of molecules; and the generation of ultrafast electron pulses and optical pulses down to X-ray wavelengths, to observe molecular structures during chemical reactions. This is but one area in which increased understanding will lead to a greater ability to improve the practical applications of the chemical sciences.
  • Learn how to design and produce new substances, materials, and molecular devices with properties that can be predicted, tailored, and tuned before production. This ability would greatly streamline the search for new useful substances, avoiding considerable trial and error. Recent and projected advances in chemical theory and computation should make this possible.

    Understand the chemistry of living systems in detail. Understand how various different proteins and nucleic acids and small biological molecules assemble into chemically defined functional complexes, and indeed understand all the complex chemical interactions among the various components of living cells. Explaining the processes of life in chemical terms is one of the great challenges continuing into the future, and the chemistry behind thought and memory is an especially exciting challenge. This is an area in which great progress has been made, as biology increasingly becomes a chemical science (and chemistry increasingly becomes a life science).

  • Develop medicines and therapies that can cure currently untreatable diseases. In spite of the great progress that has been made in the invention of new medicines by chemists, and new materials and delivery vehicles by engineers, the challenges in these directions are vast. New medicines to deal with cancer, viral diseases, and many other maladies will enormously improve human welfare.

    Develop self-assembly as a useful approach to the synthesis and manufacturing of complex systems and materials. Mixtures of properly designed chemical components can organize themselves into complex assemblies with structures from the nanoscale to the macroscale, in a fashion similar to biological assembly. Taking this methodology from the laboratory experimentation to the practical manufacturing arena could revolutionize chemical processing.

  • Understand the complex chemistry of the earth, including land, sea, atmosphere, and biosphere, so we can maintain its livability. This is a fundamental challenge to the natural science of our field, and it is key to helping design policies that will prevent environmental degradation. In addition, chemical scientists will use this understanding to create new methods to deal with pollution and other threats to our Earth.
  • Develop unlimited and inexpensive energy (with new ways of energy generation, storage, and transportation) to pave the way to a truly sustainable future. Our current ways of generating and using energy consume limited resources and produce environmental problems. There are very exciting prospects for fuel cells to permit an economy based on hydrogen (generated in various ways) rather than fossil fuels, ways to harness the energy of sunlight for our use, and superconductors that will permit efficient energy distribution.
  • Design and develop self-optimizing chemical systems. Building on the approach that allows optimization of biological systems through evolution, this would let a system produce the optimal new substance, and produce it as a single product rather than as a mixture from which the desired component must be isolated and identified. Self-optimizing systems would allow visionary chemical scientists to use this approach to make new medicines, catalysts, and other important chemical products–in part by combining new approaches to informatics with rapid experimental screening methods.
  • Revolutionize the design of chemical processes to make them safe, compact, flexible, energy efficient, environmentally benign, and conducive to the rapid commercialization of new products. This points to the major goal of modern chemical engineering, in which many new factors are important for an optimal manufacturing process. Great progress has been made in developing green chemistry, but more is needed as we continue to meet human needs with the production of important chemical products using processes that are completely harmless to Earth and its inhabitants.
  • Communicate effectively to the general public the contributions that chemistry and chemical engineering make to society. Chemists and chemical engineers need to learn how to communicate effectively to the general public–both through the media and directly–to explain what chemists and chemical engineers do and to convey the goals and achievements of the chemical sciences in pursuit of a better world.
  • Attract the best and the brightest young students into the chemical sciences, to help meet these challenges. They can contribute to critical human needs while following exciting careers, working on and beyond the molecular frontier.

Make your airline and hotel reservations quickly for Cancun

The on-line registration is now available for the Cancun meeting.

The full technical program can be read on the Cancun NAM website- click on any session number in the table of week-long symposia.

Note there are two registration entries to fill in: the hotel and the meeting. You will need a credit card for both, although the hotel charge will not be made to your credit card unless you don’t cancel in time.

Register on-line at http://www.18nam.org.

Cancun is a popular vacation resort, so you should make your airline reservations early in order to get the lowest fares. Flights on American carriers are sold on the basis of seat availability. As the plane fills up, the seats get more and more expensive. [My seat, purchased last month was ~$600. from Philadelphia, a month later it is now twice that.] Shop around and be flexible on dates in order to get the best airfare.

From the East Coast of the USA there are non-stops on US Airways (from PHL), on Continental (from Newark), and on United (from Miami). American Airlines and Northwest also fly into Cancun. Many travel agencies run group flights and sometimes these can be quite cheap.

Alex Bell awarded 2003 Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis

Professor Alexis T. Bell has been awarded the 2003 Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis by the North American Catalysis Society. The Lectureship is sponsored by Johnson Matthey PLC’s Catalysts and Chemicals Division and 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. His research activities have led to more than 400 publications in the most prestigious journals in catalysis, chemistry and chemical engineering. Over many years he has applied cutting-edge spectroscopy and theory to study surfaces before and after catalytic reactions.

His nominators offered some of the following remarks. His earlier work with Professor Doros Theodorou pioneered the application of statistical mechanics and molecular dynamics for predicting the adsorption and diffusion of molecules in zeolites. This represented one of the first quantitative applications of theoretical methods to systems of direct catalytic relevance. Later his work with Professor Arup Chakraborty succeeded in using quantum mechanical calculations to determine the siting and stability of metal cations exchanged into zeolites. In the area of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, his elegant use of in situ infrared methods, surface science techniques, and isotopic switch methods led to a mechanistic picture of “unprecedented clarity and relevance.” Rate constants for elementary steps and the identity and reactivity of specific adsorbed intermediates were measured and ultimately used to elucidate the underlying structure-function relations for chain growth as well as the operative basis for widely reported strong meta-supported interactions. His studies have led to demonstration of a novel bifunctional mechanism for methanol synthesis and leads to strong effects of Lewis acidity and basicity of ZrO2 on activity and selectivity. He has also made significant contributions in the area of zeolite catalysis by elucidating the mechanism of both the synthesis and function of these heterogeneous catalysts.

Together with Professor Clay Radke, the application of NMR methods led to the direct observation of the structure-directing role of organic and inorganic cations during synthesis and to a clear mechanistic picture of their self-assembly in complex solutions and gels. A combination of kinetic, infrared, isotopic and theoretical studies also led to a clearer mechanistic and structural picture of the nature of exchanged cations in zeolites and their involvement in forming and stabilizing reactive intermediates in the reduction of NO by hydrocarbons. In the area of metal oxides, Alex pioneered the use of Raman spectroscopy for the structural characterization of dispersed structures. His applications of these methods to the characterization of oxidative dehydrogenation catalysts led to specific assignments of site reactivity and to a comprehensive picture of the mechanism and site requirements for desired and undesired reactions of alkanes on dispersed oxides. More recently, working in collaboration with Professor Enrique Iglesia, he has also explored the use of in situ UV-visible and X-ray absorption spectroscopy in measuring the number of active sites and reduced centers during alkane oxidation reactions. Throughout all this work, Alex has repeatedly demonstrated a natural talent that allows him to translate his research on catalytic phenomena, catalytic reaction mechanisms, and the identification and description of catalytic sites for a wide range of chemistries into understandable terms for his audience.

The lectureship comes with an honorarium and travel stipend that will allow him to visit many of the local clubs of the North American Catalysis Society in order to stimulate both young and old minds to the marvels of catalysis.
John N. Armor

Nominations sought for International Catalysis Award

Note – nominations are due before September 1, 2003 for the 2004 Award
The International Catalysis Award is sponsored by the International Association of Catalysis Societies. It will be awarded once every four years, in the year before the next International of Catalysis, which occurs every leap year. It consists of a certificate and financial reward, which will be presented to the recipient during the ICC following the awarding year. The financial remuneration shall be equal to ten times the registration fee of that International Congress of Catalysis.

The purpose of this Award is to recognise and encourage individual contributions by a young person in the field of Catalysis, such as the discovery of the significant improvement of a catalytic process, or an important contribution to the understanding of catalytic phenomena.

Selection of the recipient will be made by an International Committee composed of renowned scientists or engineers. This Committee will be appointed by the President of the International Association of Catalysis Societies, subsequent to proposals from the Executive Committee of the International Association of Catalysis Societies. Selection will be made without regard to nationality or affiliation. The recipient must not have passed her/his 45th birthday by May 1 of the award year. Posthumous awards will be made only when knowledge of the winner’s death is received after the announcement of the International Committee’s decision.

Nomination of the award should be made before September 1 in the year preceding an International Congress on Catalysis (i.e. September 1, 2003 for the 13th ICC Award), and should include a critical evaluation of the significance of the nominee’s published work, as well as a statement about the particular contribution on which the nomination is based. Nominations should also include the nominee’s qualifications, accomplishments and biography. Nomination documents, along with no more than two letters of support, should be submitted in seven copies to the President of the International Association of Catalysis Societies. The recipient will be required to give a lecture on her/his research as part of the International Congress on Catalysis at which the award is conferred (i.e. 13th ICC, July 11-16, 2004).