Dr. Jeffrey S. Beck is the 2009 Eugene J. Houdry Awardee

Jeffrey Scott Beck

Jef­frey Scott Beck

It is my plea­sure to announce that Dr. Jef­frey S. Beck of Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing Com­pa­ny, Clin­ton, NJ (USA) is the 2009 Eugene J. Houdry Awardee. This award is spon­sored by Süd Chemie and admin­is­tered by The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. The pur­pose of the Award is to rec­og­nize and encour­age indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on the devel­op­ment of new and improved cat­a­lysts and process­es rep­re­sent­ing out­stand­ing advances in their use­ful appli­ca­tion. The Award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­i­um. Fur­ther details about this Award and its his­to­ry may be found in the Awards Fold­er of the NACS web­site, www.nacatsoc.org.

Among his many accom­plish­ments, Jeff was co-inven­tor of M41S, an entire­ly new class of meso­porous mol­e­c­u­lar sieves. M41S mate­ri­als rep­re­sent a break­through in ultra large pore mol­e­c­u­lar sieve tech­nol­o­gy. Uti­liz­ing strate­gies gleaned from sur­fac­tant chem­istry, Jeff demon­strat­ed how to manip­u­late the syn­the­sis of these mate­ri­als to tai­lor their pore size from 20 to 100 Å. He also demon­strat­ed that the inter­ac­tions between sur­fac­tant tem­plates and reac­tion con­di­tions in these sys­tems could be manip­u­lat­ed to pro­duce either zeolitic or meso­porous mate­ri­als, thus illus­trat­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of either mol­e­c­u­lar or supramol­e­c­u­lar tem­plat­ing. Dis­cov­ery of these mate­ri­als is rec­og­nized as a major inno­va­tion through­out the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty. These sil­i­cates are applic­a­ble to a wide range of appli­ca­tions in catal­y­sis, sep­a­ra­tions and as host/guest mate­ri­als. This work was award­ed the 1994 Don­ald W. Breck Award by the Inter­na­tion­al Zeo­lite Asso­ci­a­tion.

Anoth­er major achieve­ment includes Jeff’s sem­i­nal work on prepar­ing ex-situ selec­ti­vat­ed cat­a­lysts which laid the ground­work for the Exxon­Mo­bil PxMaxsm process (selec­tive con­ver­sion of toluene to p‑xylene, the pre­cur­sor to terephathal­ic acid and poly­esters), which was recent­ly rec­og­nized with the ACS Heroes of Chem­istry Award. His research in the “mol­e­c­u­lar engi­neer­ing” of zeo­lites and the inter­play between reac­tion path­ways, kinet­ics, and mass trans­port in micro­p­orous mate­ri­als led to sev­er­al com­mer­cial process­es for the selec­tive pro­duc­tion of para-xylene. Jef­f’s fun­da­men­tal stud­ies enabled him to tai­lor the dif­fu­sion prop­er­ties of the cat­a­lyst by using nov­el nano-coat­ing tech­niques. He car­ried out detailed kinet­ic and mech­a­nis­tic stud­ies to design cat­a­lysts for selec­tive pro­duc­tion of para-xylene in Exxon­Mo­bil process­es such as PxMaxsm and XyMaxsm (award­ed the 2003 Thomas Alva Edi­son Patent Award by the Research and Devel­op­ment Coun­cil of New Jer­sey), and his find­ings also played a key role in the com­mer­cial man­u­fac­ture of these cat­a­lysts. These dis­cov­er­ies have been deployed world­wide in more than 20 com­mer­cial units for para-xylene pro­duc­tion, with oth­ers planned, and have been rec­og­nized not just by their rather sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­ic impact, but also for their envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits by reduc­ing the ener­gy required to pro­duce para-xylene and their soci­etal ben­e­fit in enabling the low­er cost pro­duc­tion of the key com­po­nent used in the pro­duc­tion of poly­eth­yl­enetereph­the­late (PET), one of the world’s most wide­ly used poly­mers.

In addi­tion, Jeff has authored or coau­thored 47 sci­en­tif­ic pub­li­ca­tions, 58 exter­nal pre­sen­ta­tions, and 59 patents, which demon­strate his cre­ativ­i­ty in the broad research area of catal­y­sis. One sup­port­er com­ment­ed, “He inno­vates, imple­ments, and leads. Jeff’s impact on Exxon­Mo­bil through catal­y­sis has been tremen­dous, far exceed­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.”

Jeff has also played a key role in bring­ing to Exxon­Mo­bil new research tools to fur­ther increase capa­bil­i­ties to effi­cient­ly car­ry out research and devel­op­ment of nov­el cat­alyt­ic tech­nolo­gies. He was a key mem­ber of the team that estab­lished a broad Exxon­Mo­bil-Symyx alliance in High-Through­put R&D (HT R&D). With Jeff lead­ing the effort, these new HT R&D tools, along with advanced mod­el­ing efforts, are suc­cess­ful­ly being imple­ment­ed at Exxon­Mo­bil and have yield­ed inno­va­tions that have been com­mer­cial­ized in the refin­ing and lubri­cant areas.

Jeff’s cur­rent role at Exxon­Mo­bil is man­ag­er of Cor­po­rate Strate­gic Research of Exxon­Mo­bil Research and Engi­neer­ing Com­pa­ny, with over­ar­ch­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for upstream, down­stream, and chem­i­cals long range research for the entire Cor­po­ra­tion.
John Armor
Pres­i­dent of The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety