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.

In Memoriam: George C.A. Schuit (1910 – 2001)

George Schuit passed away peace­ful­ly on Sun­day, Decem­ber 9, 2001, at the blessed age of 91. He was a great sci­en­tist, an extreme­ly friend­ly, gen­er­ous, and inspir­ing per­son. After obtain­ing his PhD at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lei­den in 1938, George worked for 25 years at the Shell lab­o­ra­to­ries in Ams­ter­dam, where he devel­oped into one the pio­neers of Dutch catal­y­sis, and a leader of inter­na­tion­al stature. His research inter­ests ranged from homo­ge­neous to het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis, from the­o­ret­i­cal chem­istry to spec­troscopy, and from the mol­e­c­u­lar detail to the indus­tri­al appli­ca­tion.

In 1961 he was appoint­ed at the Eind­hoven Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy to the chair of Inor­gan­ic Chem­istry and Catal­y­sis, as the first pro­fes­sor in catal­y­sis in the Nether­lands. He super­vised 22 PhD stu­dents and many more Mas­ters stu­dents. His major fields of research were selec­tive oxi­da­tion, hydrodesul­fu­r­iza­tion, and nitro­gen fix­a­tion. Begin­ning in the ear­ly 1970’s, George began to spend a sig­nif­i­cant frac­tion of his time at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware, and after his retire­ment from Eind­hoven in 1976, he strength­ened his com­mit­ment to Delaware, where he was influ­en­tial in the start-up of a fledg­ling catal­y­sis pro­gram that led to the estab­lish­ment of the uni­ver­si­ty’s Cen­ter for Cat­alyt­ic Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy in 1978. In Delaware, George col­lab­o­rat­ed exten­sive­ly in research with numer­ous fac­ul­ty and stu­dents, helped to start a short course, and worked with Jim Katzer and Bruce Gates to write the text­book “Chem­istry of Cat­alyt­ic Process­es.” An annu­al lec­ture­ship in George’s hon­or was estab­lished in 1985; for many years, George was the hon­ored guest at this lec­ture.

In the course of the eight­ies George and his wife returned to The Nether­lands where they set­tled in Nue­nen, just out­side Eind­hoven. In these years he came reg­u­lar­ly to sem­i­nars and sym­posia in the Uni­ver­si­ty, but hard­ly in the lab­o­ra­to­ry. Mod­est as he was, he did not want to be in anyone’s way. We would have loved to see him more often to ben­e­fit from his expe­ri­ence and per­spec­tives!

In 1989 Rut­ger van San­ten — after Roel Prins, the sec­ond suc­ces­sor in Catal­y­sis, who pro­ceed­ed George at Eind­hoven – found­ed an insti­tute of catal­y­sis, which served as the nucle­ation point for the Nether­lands Insti­tute of Catal­y­sis Research (NIOK). The Eind­hoven branch became the Schuit Insti­tute of Catal­y­sis, employ­ing approx­i­mate­ly 100 sci­en­tists and stu­dents and fea­tur­ing twice per year the Schuit Lec­ture in Catal­y­sis, with promi­nent speak­ers from all over the world. The major spe­cial­iza­tion of the Schuit Insti­tute is the mol­e­c­u­lar descrip­tion of catal­y­sis aid­ed by spec­troscopy and the­o­ry, which is the field in George Schuit was a pio­neer. This theme is also strong­ly in evi­dence in the work of the Delaware cen­ter. We are proud that George’s name is for­ev­er con­nect­ed with catal­y­sis research at Eind­hoven and Delaware.

We will remem­ber him as a pio­neer of our pro­fes­sion, a great sci­en­tist of inter­na­tion­al cal­iber, and a won­der­ful and warm per­son, and an intel­lec­tu­al leader in catal­y­sis.
Bruce Gates and Hans Nie­mantsver­dri­et

New York Club’s Award for Excellence in Catalysis


Presented by The Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York


The Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of Met­ro­pol­i­tan New York is seek­ing nom­i­na­tions for its twen­ty-first annu­al “Award for Excel­lence in Catal­y­sis.” The award, spon­sored by Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing Com­pa­ny, con­sists of a plaque and a $1,200 gift. It is grant­ed to an indi­vid­ual or a research team from North Amer­i­ca to rec­og­nize out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions in either applied or basic research in either homo­ge­neous or het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis. Par­tic­u­lar effort is made to iden­ti­fy wor­thy indi­vid­u­als or teams who have not received suf­fi­cient recog­ni­tion for their work.

This award will bring due recog­ni­tion to the recipient(s), and we appre­ci­ate your help in seek­ing first-rate can­di­dates. We espe­cial­ly need to for­ti­fy our active nom­i­na­tion list! Nom­i­na­tions are solicit­ed from any­one who is cur­rent­ly, or has been pre­vi­ous­ly, active in the field of catal­y­sis. Nom­i­na­tions pre­vi­ous­ly sub­mit­ted as well as new ones will remain active for a peri­od of three years.

Those wish­ing to sub­mit a nom­i­na­tion should write a let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion for the indi­vid­ual nom­i­nee or team, includ­ing per­ti­nent bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion and a spe­cif­ic descrip­tion of the impact of the nominee’s achieve­ments in catal­y­sis. The max­i­mum length of the let­ter should be no more than two pages. It may be accom­pa­nied by copies of no more than two items pre­sent­ing impor­tant doc­u­men­ta­tion, such as papers or patents.

Dead­line for receipt of nom­i­na­tions is Jan­u­ary 18, 2002.

Past Recipients of the Award

  • 1982 J.A. Rabo (Union Car­bide)
  • 1983 K. Kli­er (Lehigh)
  • 1984 W. Kaed­ing, et al (Mobil)
  • 1985 A. Van­nice (U. of Penn­syl­va­nia)
  • 1986 J. Lunsford (Texas A&M)
  • 1987 F.J. Karol, et al (Union Car­bide)
  • 1988 S.J. Tauster (Engel­hard)
  • 1989 Bruce C. Gates (Delaware)
  • 1990 W. Kei­th Hall (Pitts­burgh)
  • 1991 N.Y. Chen (Mobil)
  • 1992 H.S. Gan­di (Ford)
  • 1993 Gary L. Haller (Yale)
  • 1994 James A. Dumesic (Wis­con­sin)
  • 1995 Gary McVick­er (Exxon)
  • 1996 Israel Wachs (Lehigh)
  • 1997 John Newsam (Mol­e­c­u­lar Sim­u­la­tions Inc)
  • 1998 Ter­ry Bak­er (North­east­ern)
  • 1999 Shun Fung (Exxon)
  • 2000 Hen­ry C. Foley (Delaware)
  • 2001 J.F. Brazdil, et al (BP Chem­i­cal)

2002 Spring Symposium

Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of Met­ro­pol­i­tan New York
Fri­day, April 26, 2002
Seton Hall Uni­ver­si­ty, South Orange, New Jer­sey

The Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of Met­ro­pol­i­tan NY invites you to sub­mit abstracts of papers for oral or poster pre­sen­ta­tion at the 2002 Spring Sym­po­sium. As a head­ing of the abstract please list the title, author(s) (under­line the speak­er) and affil­i­a­tion. The length of the abstract should not exceed one page, sin­gle-spaced. Twen­ty min­utes will be allot­ted for each oral pre­sen­ta­tion, fol­lowed by a ten-minute dis­cus­sion peri­od. Times will be strict­ly mon­i­tored so as to encour­age a thor­ough dis­cus­sion. In addi­tion, two $125 awards will be giv­en to the best stu­dent posters. All mem­bers are urged to reserve the date and par­tic­i­pate in the Spring Sym­po­sium.

The dead­line for receipt of abstracts is Feb­ru­ary 1, 2002. You will be noti­fied of con­sid­er­a­tion for the Sym­po­sium by Feb­ru­ary 22, 2002.

Those sub­mit­ting an award nom­i­na­tion and/or paper(s)/poster(s) for con­sid­er­a­tion for the Spring Sym­po­sium should send or e‑mail them to:
David Cal­abro
Exxon­Mo­bil Research & Engi­neer­ing
1545 Route 22 East
Annan­dale, NJ 08801

Newly available Pilot Plant Facilities and Services

World-Class Pilot Plant Facil­i­ties and Ser­vices Now Avail­able To Glob­al Refin­ing and Process Indus­tries.

Chevron­Tex­a­co Glob­al Tech­nol­o­gy Ser­vices Com­pa­ny (Globe Tech), an enti­ty of Chevron­Tex­a­co Cor­po­ra­tion and ITS Caleb Brett Corp., have entered into an agree­ment in Octo­ber 2001 to pro­vide clients in the refin­ing and process indus­tries use of Globe Tech’s pilot plant facil­i­ty locat­ed in Rich­mond, Cal­i­for­nia.

Chevron­Tex­a­co Corp., through Globe Tech, oper­ates the pilot plant to eval­u­ate cat­a­lysts in a vari­ety of refin­ery process­es. The adapt­able and flex­i­ble design of the pilot plant offers the abil­i­ty to test many oth­er reac­tion-based process­es. The facil­i­ty fea­tures large-scale dis­til­la­tion capa­bil­i­ties, feed­stock prepa­ra­tion and state-of-the-art infra­struc­ture.

Through the agree­ment, ITS Caleb Brett offers and Globe Tech pro­vides pilot plant capa­bil­i­ties for cat­alyt­ic, reac­tion, sep­a­ra­tion, purifi­ca­tion, batch scale, con­tin­u­ous process, flu­idized cat­alyt­ic crack­ing, fixed-bed cat­alyt­ic pro­cess­ing, small scale syn­the­sis, proof of con­cept, isother­mal, adi­a­bat­ic, liq­uid and gas recy­cling process­es and more.

For More Infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:
Erik Hol­la­day
ITS Caleb Brett
Glob­al Alliance Ser­vices
5051 Wes­t­heimer, Suite 1700
Hous­ton, Texas 77056
Tel: 713.407.3500 USA
Steven Scia­man­na
Chevron­Tex­a­co Glob­al Tech­nol­o­gy Ser­vices Co.
100 Chevron Way
Rich­mond, CA 94802
Tel. 510.242.5075 USA
Novem­ber 12, 2001
Rich­mond, Cal­i­for­nia USA Hous­ton, Texas USA Madrid, Spain

Nominations for Herman Pines Award

The Catal­y­sis Club of Chica­go is solic­it­ing nom­i­na­tions for the Her­man Pines Award for out­stand­ing research in the field of catal­y­sis. Her­man Pines was an out­stand­ing research sci­en­tist, and his work rev­o­lu­tion­ized the gen­er­al under­stand­ing of organ­ic chem­istry, par­tic­u­lar­ly the chem­istry of hydro­car­bons inter­act­ing with strong acids.

The award in his hon­or is spon­sored by UOP where Her­man began his indus­tri­al career in 1930 and amassed 145 US patents over a 23 year peri­od. The award is being co-spon­sored by the Catal­y­sis Club of Chica­go of which Pro­fes­sor Pines was a found­ing mem­ber. The award will be pre­sent­ed annu­al­ly at the Spring Sym­po­sium of the Catal­y­sis Club of Chica­go. The recip­i­ent will receive a cash award of $1,000 and reim­burse­ment for trav­el and lodg­ing as a ple­nary speak­er at the Spring Sym­po­sium.

Past Herman Pines Award winners

  • 1999 Pro­fes­sor Harold Kung (North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty)
  • 2000 Dr. John Mon­nier (East­man Chem­i­cal Com­pa­ny)
  • 2001 Pro­fes­sor Lan­ny Schmidt (Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta)

A com­mit­tee appoint­ed by the Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of the Catal­y­sis Club of Chica­go will choose the recip­i­ent based on the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria:

  • Impor­tance of catal­y­sis research com­plet­ed in the past five years.
  • Alter­na­tion of the award between indus­tri­al and academic/national lab­o­ra­to­ry researchers.
  • Recip­i­ent must be a res­i­dent of North Amer­i­ca.

For the award to be giv­en in 2002, nom­i­na­tions for AN INDUSTRIAL RESEARCHER are sought by Decem­ber 31, 2001. Nom­i­na­tions should describe the spe­cif­ic work for which the nom­i­nee should be rec­og­nized. Please send your nom­i­na­tion either through Inter­net Nom­i­na­tion Form or direct­ly via reg­u­lar mail by the dead­line to:
Dr. Paul T. Barg­er
Pres­i­dent of the Chica­go Catal­y­sis Club
UOP Research Cen­ter
50 East Algo­nquin Road
Des Plaines, IL 60017–5016 (E‑mail)
(847) 391‑3729 (Phone)
(847) 391‑3724 (Fax)
The recip­i­ent will be noti­fied in Feb­ru­ary of 2002, and the award address will take place at the Spring Sym­po­sium in May of 2002.

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.

Value of Catalysis

In the Intro­duc­tion to a new book, the impor­tance of catal­y­sis is nice­ly sum­ma­rized:

In 1993, the world­wide use of cat­a­lysts amount­ed to $8.7 bil­lion, with $3.1 bil­lion for chem­i­cals, $3 bil­lion for envi­ron­men­tal, $1.8 bil­lion for petro­le­um refin­ing, and $0.8 bil­lion for indus­tri­al bio­catal­y­sis. In the USA, the total demand for cat­a­lysts was $2.4 bil­lion in 1995 and is fore­cast to rise to $2.9 bil­lion in 2000.

In addi­tion, the eco­nom­ic impor­tance of catal­y­sis is enor­mous:

  • Catal­y­sis is crit­i­cal to the pro­duc­tion of 30 of the top 50 com­mod­i­ty chem­i­cals pro­duced in the USA.
  • Near­ly 90% of all US chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es involve catal­y­sis.
  • $200 to $1000 worth of prod­ucts are man­u­fac­tured for every $1 worth of cat­a­lyst con­sumed.
  • The val­ue of US goods pro­duced using cat­alyt­ic process­es is esti­mat­ed at 17–30% of the US GNP.
  • There is a huge soci­etal ben­e­fit of catal­y­sis for envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, since emis­sion con­trol cat­a­lysts are a sig­nif­i­cant sec­tor of the mar­ket.

Source of com­piled remarks: Cat­a­lyst Design, by M. Mor­bidel­li, A. Gavri­ilidis, and A. Var­ma, Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, New York, 2001.

Canadian Catalysis Lectureship Award 2001 – Dr. Marten Ternan

The Cana­di­an Catal­y­sis Foun­da­tion is pleased to announce that Dr. Marten Ter­nan is the win­ner of the 2001 Cana­di­an Catal­y­sis Lec­ture­ship Award. He is cur­rent­ly work­ing with a team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa (Bour­gault, Con­way, and Pso­fo­gian­nakis) on mod­el­ing direct hydro­car­bon fuel cells using com­pu­ta­tion­al flu­id dynam­ics. The award con­sists of an hon­o­rar­i­um along with fund­ing so that the win­ner can pro­vide a series of lec­tures across Cana­da. The Cana­di­an Catal­y­sis Lec­ture­ship Award is made to a researcher who is rec­og­nized as a leader in a par­tic­u­lar field of catal­y­sis, or some­one who has just com­plet­ed a new and interesting/controversial piece of work that is not wide­ly rec­og­nized. It is restrict­ed to Cana­di­ans who are cur­rent­ly work­ing in Cana­da in the area of catal­y­sis, and is intend­ed to pro­vide expo­sure to Cana­di­an sci­en­tists and engi­neers.

Professor Smirniotis recieves award

Dr. Peter Smirni­o­tis (Chem. Eng. Dept., Univ. of Cincin­nati) received the BP Fac­ul­ty Excel­lence Award for 2000–2001. This new­ly cre­at­ed award was pre­sent­ed by Mr. Jon Rad­abaugh, Cat­a­lyst Prod­uct Man­ag­er of BP.

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 (