2021 Michel Boudart Award in Fundamental Catalysis for Graham Hutchings for Groundbreaking Work on Gold and Selective Oxidation Catalysis

Pro­fes­sor Gra­ham Hutch­ings, Copy­right, Cardiff Uni­ver­si­ty

Gra­ham Hutch­ings, an alum­nus of Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don (UCL, Unit­ed King­dom), is cur­rent­ly affil­i­at­ed at Cardiff Uni­ver­si­ty (Unit­ed King­dom) as a Regius Pro­fes­sor. He has been the found­ing Direc­tor of the Cardiff Catal­y­sis Insti­tute, which he has been head­ing in the peri­od 2008–2019. The com­bi­na­tion of indus­tri­al and aca­d­e­m­ic expe­ri­ences in both the UK (ICI, Uni­ver­si­ties of Liv­er­pool and Cardiff) and South Africa (AECI Ltd and Uni­ver­si­ty of Wit­wa­ter­srand) has giv­en Pro­fes­sor Gra­ham Hutch­ings a research per­spec­tive that has enabled him to engage with com­plex catal­y­sis prob­lems, study them with inge­nu­ity, and pro­vide prac­ti­cal solu­tions through advances in basic sci­ence.

Gra­ham Hutch­ings is per­haps best known for his ground­break­ing fun­da­men­tal work on gold catal­y­sis. In 1985 he pre­dict­ed gold to be the best cat­a­lyst for acety­lene reac­tions, sub­se­quent­ly con­firm­ing this exper­i­men­tal­ly. He remains a pio­neer of field of gold catal­y­sis and con­tin­ues to play a lead­ing role in the dis­cov­ery of nano-gold cat­a­lysts for new appli­ca­tions. The work of his research group on gold catal­y­sis has enabled the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of gold as a cat­a­lyst for vinyl chlo­ride pro­duc­tion by acety­lene hydrochlo­ri­na­tion (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 14548–14557) replac­ing a high­ly pol­lut­ing mer­cury cat­a­lyst. Work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion since 2007 with John­son Matthey enabled the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the cat­a­lyst. Using advanced char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, his research group con­firmed the nature of the active site as sup­port­ed ful­ly dis­persed gold cations, which is con­sis­tent with his orig­i­nal 1985 pre­dic­tion (Sci­ence 2017, 355, 1399–1402). Replac­ing the mer­cury cat­a­lyst that has been used com­mer­cial­ly for decades has enabled the Min­i­ma­ta Con­ven­tion (http://www.mercuryconvention.org/) to become inter­na­tion­al law in May 2017 ensur­ing that mer­cury can no longer be used in any appli­ca­tion.

In addi­tion to his orig­i­nal and impact­ful work on gold, he has mod­i­fied the prop­er­ties of gold cat­a­lysts by alloy­ing this noble met­al with oth­er met­als. Notably his group has shown that sup­port­ed gold-pal­la­di­um alloys are high­ly effec­tive sol­id cat­a­lysts for a range of tech­ni­cal­ly demand­ing chem­i­cal reac­tions. Exam­ples include selec­tive methane oxi­da­tion to methanol (Sci­ence 2017, 358, 223–226) and hydro­gen per­ox­ide syn­the­sis (Sci­ence 2016, 351, 965–968). He has recent­ly used these mate­ri­als for water purifi­ca­tion and is now inter­est­ed in com­bin­ing bio- and chemo­catal­y­sis for new appli­ca­tions (Nat. Com­mun. 2019, 10, 4178).

Pro­fes­sor Hutch­ings is a high­ly rec­og­nized schol­ar in the field of catal­y­sis, and received many nation­al and inter­na­tion­al sci­en­tif­ic hon­ors and awards. He also has done a num­ber of out­reach activ­i­ties and ser­vices to the catal­y­sis com­mu­ni­ty and has kept the Unit­ed King­dom at the fore­front of catal­y­sis research over the years and is very well con­nect­ed with­in Europe and world­wide. His lec­tures are out­stand­ing and he is able to reach and cap­ti­vate the younger gen­er­a­tions. His ser­vices to the field are diverse, impact­ful and high­ly appre­ci­at­ed with­in the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty.
More infor­ma­tion on Pro­fes­sor Gra­ham Hutch­ings:
More infor­ma­tion on the Michel Boudart Award for the Advance­ment of Catal­y­sis: The Award is admin­is­tered joint­ly by the Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties (EFCATS) and the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NACS), and is spon­sored by the Hal­dor Top­søe Com­pa­ny. The Award is pre­sent­ed bien­ni­al­ly in odd num­bered years. The recip­i­ent will give ple­nary lec­tures at the bian­nu­al meet­ings of both EFCATS (EuropaCat) and NACS (NAM). The award con­sists of a plaque and a prize of $6,000. The 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. The Award selec­tion process will empha­size accom­plish­ments and con­tri­bu­tions pub­lished with­in the five pre­ced­ing years. Can­di­dates may be nom­i­nat­ed with­out any restric­tion of nation­al ori­gin, thus reflect­ing the inter­na­tion­al scope of the career and con­tri­bu­tions of Michel Boudart.