Heinz Heinemann: One of the accomplished founders of the Catalysis Society

Dur­ing a 60-year career in indus­try and acad­e­mia, Heinz con­tributed to the inven­tion and devel­op­ment of 14 com­mer­cial fos­sil fuel processes, received 75 patents and was the author of more than a hun­dred pub­li­ca­tions. Among his inven­tions was a process for con­vert­ing methanol to gaso­line. At his death, he was a dis­tin­guished sci­en­tist in the Wash­ing­ton office of LBNL. Dur­ing the period 2001 to 2004, he served as a man­ager of the Wash­ing­ton Chem­i­cal Soci­ety (ACS) and as pres­i­dent of its Retired Chemists Group. After retire­ment from a career in indus­try, Heinz was a long-time lec­turer in the Col­lege of Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, and a chem­istry researcher at Lawrence Berke­ley National Laboratory.

Born in Berlin, Ger­many, he attended the Uni­ver­sity and Tech­nis­che Hochschule in Berlin. When his doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion was rejected because he was Jew­ish, he made his way to Basel, Switzer­land, where he received his PhD in phys­i­cal chem­istry from the Uni­ver­sity of Basel, before com­ing to the United States in 1938. He became a U.S. cit­i­zen in 1944. He worked for sev­eral petro­leum com­pa­nies in Louisiana and Texas and won a post­doc­toral fel­low­ship at the then-Carnegie Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, now Carnegie-Mellon Uni­ver­sity. The fel­low­ship was funded by the gov­ern­ment of the Domini­can Repub­lic and involved research into ethanol, which was made from the Domini­can Republic’s pri­mary cash crop, sugar cane.

He pub­lished more than 150 papers and over 50 patents in catal­y­sis and petro­leum chem­istry, mostly while work­ing for Houdry Process Corp., the MW Kel­logg Co. as direc­tor of chem­i­cal and engi­neer­ing research, and the Mobil Research and Devel­op­ment Co. as man­ager of catal­y­sis research. Dur­ing those years he actively par­tic­i­pated in the research and devel­op­ment of 14 com­mer­cial processes, includ­ing the process for con­vert­ing methanol to gasoline.

After retir­ing from indus­try in 1978, he joined the Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab­o­ra­tory as a researcher and became a lec­turer in the Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at UC Berke­ley. His research involved coal gasi­fi­ca­tion, cat­alytic coal liq­ue­fac­tion, hydro­den­i­tri­fi­ca­tion, nitro­gen oxide emis­sion con­trol and the devel­op­ment of a spe­cial cat­a­lyst that enables methane, the major com­po­nent of nat­ural gas, to be used to make petro­chem­i­cals. The research team he led invented and patented a process known as cat­alytic oxydehydrogenation.

He was a co-founder of the Philadel­phia Catal­y­sis Club, the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of North Amer­ica and the Inter­na­tional Con­gress of Catal­y­sis, serv­ing as its pres­i­dent from 1956 to 1960. He was the founder of Catal­y­sis Reviews, and worked as its edi­tor for 20 years. He also was Con­sult­ing Edi­tor for over 90 books in the Chem­i­cal Indus­tries Series, pub­lished by Mar­cel Dekker, Inc.

He received many hon­ors, among them elec­tion to the National Acad­emy of Engi­neer­ing , the Houdry Award of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety, the Mur­phree Award of the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety, the H.H. Lowry Award pre­sented for research he pur­sued in his sev­en­ties, and a Dis­tin­guished Scientist/Engineer award of the U.S. Depart­ment of Energy. In addi­tion, he was elected a mem­ber of the Span­ish Coun­cil for Sci­en­tific Research for his sup­port in found­ing its Insti­tute of Catal­y­sis and Petrochemistry.

Heinz Heine­mann passed away on Nov. 23, 2005 of pneu­mo­nia. He was 92.
Con­tributed by http://chemistry.berkeley.edu/Publications/news/fall2005/heinz_obit.html