O. V. Kylov has passed away

Pro­fes­sor Oleg Valenti­novich Krylov, one of the major fig­ures in the field of catal­y­sis for sev­er­al decades, passed away in Moscow on the July 28, 2008, at the age of 83.

Oleg Krylov was born on Sep­tem­ber 13, 1924 into a fam­i­ly of teach­ers in the city of Ivano­vo. His moth­er was a high school biol­o­gy teacher and his father taught chem­istry at the Agri­cul­tur­al Insti­tute. It was, in fact, with­in his fam­i­ly that the main qual­i­ties of his per­son­al­i­ty were laid down, which became so bright­ly evi­dent in the future: a love for the nat­ur­al sci­ences and art, and a con­sid­er­ate atti­tude toward peo­ple.

Upon com­ple­tion of high school, Oleg Krylov entered the Ivano­vo Chem­i­cal Insti­tute, upon com­ple­tion of which he became a grad­u­ate stu­dent in the lab­o­ra­to­ry of Prof. S. E. Rogin­skii in the Col­loidal-Elec­tro­chem­i­cal Insti­tute (sub­se­quent­ly – the Insti­tute of Phys­i­cal Chem­istry) of the USSR Acad­e­my of Sci­ences. This lab­o­ra­to­ry was then one of the lead­ers in the devel­op­ment of new con­cepts in the sci­ence of catal­y­sis – the the­o­ry of non-uni­form sur­faces, the elec­tron­ic the­o­ry of adsorp­tion, and the method­ol­o­gy for select­ing cat­a­lysts for reac­tions of var­i­ous types. The theme of his candidate’s the­sis, which he defend­ed in 1951 under the direc­tion of Prof. S. E. Rogin­skii, was the acti­va­tion of plat­inum by oxy­gen for reac­tions of oxi­da­tion and hydro­gena­tion. In 1953 at the sug­ges­tion of S. E. Rogin­skii (whom Oleg Valenti­novich val­ued very high­ly and con­sid­ered his teacher) he took up a new theme – the inves­ti­ga­tion of the rules for select­ing oxide cat­a­lysts. In sig­nif­i­cant mea­sure this choice defined his sci­en­tif­ic inter­ests for many years.

In 1961, at the sug­ges­tion of its direc­tor, Nobel lau­re­ate and aca­d­e­mi­cian N. N. Semen­ov, the lab­o­ra­to­ry of S. E. Rogin­skii moved to the Insti­tute of Chem­i­cal Physics (ICP). From this time on, all of O. V. Krylov’s sci­en­tif­ic endeav­ors were con­nect­ed with the ICP. His main area of inter­est dur­ing this peri­od was defin­ing the rela­tion­ships between the elec­tron­ic con­fig­u­ra­tions and cat­alyt­ic prop­er­ties of tran­si­tion met­al com­pounds, par­tic­u­lar­ly for com­plex reac­tion sys­tems. He elu­ci­dat­ed impor­tant cor­re­la­tions and rela­tion­ships that were gen­er­al­ized in his doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion, which he defend­ed in 1964. This work served as the basis for the mono­graph enti­tled Catal­y­sis by Non-Met­als (pub­lished in Eng­lish by Aca­d­e­m­ic Press in 1970), which to this day is one of the clas­sic texts on het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis.

Over many decades Prof. Krylov direct­ed a lab­o­ra­to­ry and a divi­sion, and served as Deputy Direc­tor for Sci­ence of the ICP. He ini­ti­at­ed in situ inves­ti­ga­tions of cat­alyt­ic process­es using IR, UV, and EPR spec­troscopy, x‑ray phase analy­sis, calorime­try; and launched inves­ti­ga­tions to study the role of non-equi­lib­ri­um and excit­ed states and par­ti­cles in adsorp­tion and catal­y­sis. He (in col­lab­o­ra­tion with L. Ya Mar­go­lis and cowork­ers) for­mu­lat­ed ideas about the role of mul­ti-phase cat­a­lysts in the process­es of par­tial oxi­da­tion, which led to a new under­stand­ing of the mean­ing of “active cen­ters, as well as process for their syn­the­sis. In the ear­ly 1980s Prof. Krylov was one of the ini­tia­tors of broad-based inves­ti­ga­tions in the area of nat­ur­al gas con­ver­sion by chem­i­cal means.

O. V. Krylov played and invalu­able role in the devel­op­ment of inter­na­tion­al sci­en­tif­ic con­nec­tions. Over many years, he was respon­si­ble for this activ­i­ty with­in the frame­work of the Sci­en­tif­ic Coun­cil on Catal­y­sis. In par­tic­u­lar, he was one of the ini­tia­tors and lead­ers (togeth­er with aca­d­e­mi­cian G. K. Boreskov) of the col­lab­o­ra­tion on catal­y­sis between the USSR and the USA in the 1970s. He was the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the USSR, and then Rus­sia, in many inter­na­tion­al sci­en­tif­ic orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing jour­nal edi­to­r­i­al boards, the Coun­cil of the Inter­na­tion­al Con­gress of Catal­y­sis (now known as IACS), the Coun­cil of the World Con­gress on Oxi­da­tion Catal­y­sis, of which he was one of the ini­tia­tors. One can con­fi­dent­ly say that Prof. Krylov was one of the peo­ple who can be thanked for estab­lish­ing with­in the world com­mu­ni­ty an atmos­phere, in which the fun­da­men­tal atti­tudes are per­son­al kind­ness, decen­cy, and sci­en­tif­ic hon­esty.

One of Prof. Krylov’s main activ­i­ties dur­ing the last 15 years was to main­tain the Moscow sem­i­nars on catal­y­sis, a task that he led for near­ly 40 years. The sig­nif­i­cance of this sem­i­nar for cat­a­lyst com­mu­ni­ty in Rus­sia can­not be over­es­ti­mat­ed, espe­cial­ly when many pre­vi­ous­ly estab­lished con­nec­tions and forms of orga­ni­za­tion for sci­en­tif­ic activ­i­ties were dis­ap­pear­ing. This sem­i­nar exam­ined not only con­tem­po­rary fun­da­men­tal and applied ques­tions of catal­y­sis, but also more gen­er­al ques­tions of sci­ence, paths and lim­its of its devel­op­ment, which great­ly con­cerned O. V. Krylov in recent years.

Prof. Krylov’s work of more than 60 years con­sist­ed of 12 mono­graphs, more than 450 papers and reviews, and tens of patents. More than 50 can­di­date and doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tions were defend­ed under his lead­er­ship and with his par­tic­i­pa­tion as a con­sul­tant.
Writ­ten by Mikail Sinev, trans­lat­ed by Alex­is Bell.