Announcement of Tanabe Prize Winner at ABC‑6

The inter­na­tion­al Acid Base Catal­y­sis (ABC) group is proud to announce the award­ing of the first Tan­abe Prize for Acid-Base Catal­y­sis to Pro­fes­sor Enrique Igle­sia of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley.

The Tan­abe Prize for Acid Base Catal­y­sis is admin­is­tered by the Inter­na­tion­al Acid-Base Catal­y­sis (ABC) Group and spon­sored this year by the Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing Co. It is named to hon­or the lega­cy and accom­plish­ments of Pro­fes­sor Kozo Tan­abe, who pio­neered many of the mod­ern con­cepts in acid-base chem­istry. The prize will be pre­sent­ed at the ABC‑6 Con­fer­ence in Gen­o­va in May 2009 (6th world con­gress on Catal­y­sis by Acids and Bases, Gen­o­va, Italy, 10–14 May 2009;‑6.htm). The award con­sists of a plaque, an hon­o­rar­i­um, and trav­el expens­es to attend the meet­ing and present a ple­nary lec­ture. The Tan­abe prize rec­og­nizes sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tions to the field of acid and/or base catal­y­sis. It may be pre­sent­ed to either a young per­son who has demon­strat­ed unusu­al promise ear­ly in his/her career or to an indi­vid­ual of less than 56 years of age at the time of the ABC con­fer­ence at any career stage, who has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the area with­in the six years pre­ced­ing the award.

Enrique is being rec­og­nized for his pio­neer­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the design and under­stand­ing of acid sites with­in spe­cif­ic struc­tures and for his dis­cov­ery of a new acid catal­y­sis route with impor­tant indus­tri­al rel­e­vance, in par­tic­u­lar for two of his more recent stud­ies, the first on shape selec­tive car­bony­la­tion and the sec­ond on het­eropoly com­pounds.

His recent sem­i­nal dis­cov­ery of shape selec­tive car­bony­la­tion with­in micro­p­orous zeo­lites, in which unprece­dent­ed speci­fici­ty for car­bony­la­tion reac­tions (very high rates of car­bony­la­tion along with selec­tiv­i­ties to methyl acetate greater than 99% achieved for DME (dimethylether) car­bony­la­tion). This sig­nif­i­cant increase in cat­alyt­ic per­for­mance was shown to be the result of the unique struc­tur­al and elec­tron­ic topogra­phies of 8‑member ring chan­nels. These high­ly active and selec­tive zeo­lites are ide­al replace­ments to the cost­ly, high­ly tox­ic and cor­ro­sive iodide-pro­mot­ed organometal­lic cat­a­lysts that are cur­rent­ly used in indus­try.

Also with­in the last five years Enrique has made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the area of het­eropoly com­pounds as sol­id acids. Fol­low­ing the orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions of Pro­fes­sor Mis­ono, Enrique for­mu­lat­ed exact com­po­si­tion-func­tion rela­tions with pre­dic­tive val­ue by address­ing the reac­tiv­i­ty of POM mate­ri­als with vary­ing com­po­si­tion and hence, acid strength, and mea­sur­ing the cor­re­spond­ing kinet­ic and ther­mo­dy­nam­ic con­stants for ele­men­tary steps for alka­nol dehy­dra­tion reac­tions. In this work, the ubiq­ui­tous aggre­ga­tion and incom­plete envi­ron­ment depen­dent acces­si­bil­i­ty of POM clus­ters was min­i­mized by dis­pers­ing the POM clus­ters on sup­ports and prob­ing acces­si­bil­i­ty before and dur­ing cat­alyt­ic reac­tions using organ­ic bases of vary­ing polar­i­ty and size. His results, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pro­fes­sor M. Neurock’s for cal­cu­la­tions using DFT, have led to a quan­ti­ta­tive assess­ment of struc­tur­al and com­po­si­tion­al effects on the intrin­sic reac­tiv­i­ty of Brøn­st­ed acid sites on Keg­gin-type POM mate­ri­als. He showed that the effects of acid strength on the sta­bil­i­ty of cation­ic inter­me­di­ates and tran­si­tion states are par­tial­ly com­pen­sat­ed by the sta­bi­liza­tion of the ion-pair at the tran­si­tion state as acids become weak­er and the anion­ic con­ju­gate base acquires a high­er charge den­si­ty.