In Memoriam: David Trimm (1937–2010)

David Lawrence Trimm con­tributed to the progress of catal­y­sis through his pro­fes­sion­al work for almost five decades. He grad­u­at­ed from Uni­ver­si­ty of Exeter and got his PhD in 1961 and after a post­doc peri­od at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege and at Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go he was with Impe­r­i­al Col­lege as lec­tur­er in the Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Chem­i­cal Tech­nol­o­gy (1963–1976).

Dur­ing David’s ear­ly years at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege, he became one of the pio­neers in study­ing and explain­ing the mech­a­nism of car­bon for­ma­tion on met­al cat­a­lysts. This result­ed in a num­ber of impor­tant pub­li­ca­tions and PhD degrees. His expe­ri­ence was applied in stud­ies of the com­plex mech­a­nism of coke for­ma­tion in pyrol­y­sis (steam crack­ing) with ear­ly work on cou­pling of homo­ge­neous and het­ero­ge­neous reac­tions. Lat­er stud­ies dealt with cat­alyt­ic com­bus­tion with a view to prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions and fuel con­ver­sion for fuel cell dri­ven cars. David was present­ly engaged in research on mak­ing syn­fu­els via acety­lene. His achieve­ments in catal­y­sis are reflect­ed by a large num­ber of papers (286) many of which are high­ly cit­ed. David’s atti­tude to catal­y­sis was focused on the appli­ca­tions as reflect­ed by his ambi­tious book “Design of Indus­tri­al Cat­a­lysts” (1980).

After a few years as pro­fes­sor in Trond­heim (1976–1979) David moved to Aus­tralia which became his home. He con­tin­ued the sci­en­tif­ic work as pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New South Wales where he func­tioned as Head of School of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Indus­tri­al Chem­istry in two peri­ods (in total 18 years) until he was appoint­ed to the pres­ti­gious posi­tion as Sci­en­tia Pro­fes­sor in 2001. At the same time he con­tributed to the analy­sis of the fea­si­bil­i­ty of GTL projects for Aus­tralia through his work at CSIRO (2000-) where he was appoint­ed CSIRO Fel­low in 2007 and as advi­sor to the gov­ern­ment in numer­ous com­mit­tees. David mas­tered the abil­i­ty to be the link between sci­ence, indus­try and pol­i­cy mak­ing bod­ies.

David served as region­al edi­tor for Applied Catal­y­sis and was on the advi­so­ry board for sev­er­al jour­nals in the field. David was one of the founders of the Nat­ur­al Gas Con­ver­sion Sym­posia (NGCS) in 1987 and he received the NGCS Award in 2007; he was also behind the APCAT con­fer­ences and instru­men­tal in cre­at­ing APCAS orga­ni­za­tion (Asia Pacif­ic Asso­ci­a­tion of Catal­y­sis) in 2004.

David was strict on sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ples but had a great heart when deal­ing with peo­ple. He was an inspir­ing team leader and with his sense of humor and his charm he was able to cre­ate a strong world­wide net­work of friends many of whom have enjoyed his and Gabi’s hos­pi­tal­i­ty in their home at Wat­son Bay.

We are many who will miss David.