Professor Avelino Corma Canos selected for the 2009 Michel Boudart Award

Pro­fes­sor Aveli­no Cor­ma Canos has been select­ed for the 2009 Michel Boudart Award for the Advance­ment of Catal­y­sis. The award con­sists of a plaque and a mon­e­tary prize. 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 is spon­sored by the Hal­dor Top­søe Com­pa­ny and is admin­is­tered joint­ly by the NACS and the EFCATS. More infor­ma­tion on this award and the award process can be found in the Awards fold­er on the NACS home page Pro­fes­sor Cor­ma will also be asked to give ple­nary lec­tures at the San Fran­cis­co NAM meet­ing in June 2009 and the EuropaCat 2009 meet­ing in Sala­man­ca, Spain.

Aveli­no Cor­ma has been a research pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­dad Politéc­ni­ca de Valen­cia since 1990 where he found­ed and is direc­tor of the Insti­tu­to de Tec­nolo­gia Quími­ca (UPV-CSIC) at Valen­cia. He is a world class leader in struc­tured nano­ma­te­ri­als and mol­e­c­u­lar sieves as cat­a­lysts, cov­er­ing aspects of syn­the­sis, char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, and reac­tiv­i­ty in acid-base and redox catal­y­sis. He is rec­og­nized wide­ly for his unique abil­i­ty to com­bine state-of-the-art syn­thet­ic pro­to­cols with mod­ern the­o­ret­i­cal and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion meth­ods to design cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als for spe­cif­ic func­tions. Aveli­no has become one of the most pro­lif­ic and ver­sa­tile con­trib­u­tors to the sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy of het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis. He has pub­lished near­ly 700 schol­ar­ly man­u­scripts in the lead­ing jour­nals of chem­istry and catal­y­sis, and he has been rec­og­nized among the fifty most high­ly cit­ed chemists for the last decade. Remark­ably, he has com­bined these schol­ar­ly con­tri­bu­tions with more than 100 patents cov­er­ing inven­tions of far-reach­ing impact to the indus­tri­al prac­tice of catal­y­sis, many of them licensed to indus­try and some in com­mer­cial prac­tice. In 2006 alone, he received four pres­ti­gious inter­na­tion­al awards in recog­ni­tion of his many and broad fun­da­men­tal and prac­ti­cal con­tri­bu­tions to the field. As one nom­i­na­tor described, “Pro­fes­sor Aveli­no Corma’s … work illus­trates the val­ue of fun­da­men­tal con­cepts in prac­ti­cal dis­cov­er­ies and the need to bring togeth­er exper­i­ment and the­o­ry, char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of struc­ture and func­tion in com­plex inor­gan­ic solids, and indus­try and acad­e­mia as we seek to advance the sci­ence of catal­y­sis.” Anoth­er sup­port­er remarked, he is “one of the inter­na­tion­al­ly pre­em­i­nent schol­ars in the field of catal­y­sis today. His work has had immense impact on the sci­ence of this field and has also led to a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal appli­ca­tions, a very rare accom­plish­ment for any aca­d­e­m­ic inves­ti­ga­tor.”

Avelino’s grasp of con­cepts and of fun­da­men­tal needs has been illus­trat­ed in his recent attempts to syn­the­size and use well defined-sin­gle-iso­lat­ed sites to estab­lish struc­ture-func­tion rela­tions and to estab­lish the con­nec­tions among homo­ge­neous, enzy­mat­ic and het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis, a con­cep­tu­al frame­work that put for­ward in a sem­i­nal paper in Catal­y­sis Reviews, 46 (2004) 369 — 417. One of these approach­es involves the selec­tive attach­ment of organometal­lic com­plex­es onto tai­lored sub­strates that act not only as scaf­folds but also as active par­tic­i­pant in the acti­va­tion of reac­tants and in the sta­bi­liza­tion of tran­si­tion states. These mate­ri­als pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments over homo­ge­neous ver­sions of these active com­plex­es through the active par­tic­i­pa­tion of the inor­gan­ic scaf­folds, as shown in some of his recent pub­li­ca­tions, in which these con­cepts have been put into prac­tice (e.g. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 45, 3328 (2006); J. Catal. 224, 170 (2004); Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 46, 1536 (2007); Adv. Synth. Catal. 348, 1283 (2006)).
In anoth­er exam­ple of his many con­tri­bu­tions to catal­y­sis, he and his research group have not only addressed the design of new zeo­lites mate­ri­als for con­ven­tion­al reac­tions of hydro­car­bons, but also dis­cov­ered new chemistries and appli­ca­tions for these mate­ri­als in the syn­the­sis of petro­chem­i­cals, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and fine chem­i­cals. The ITQ-type mate­ri­als have become ubiq­ui­tous in the lit­er­a­ture; they rep­re­sent new cat­a­lyst com­po­si­tions, cur­rent­ly num­ber­ing about 50 and con­sist­ing most­ly of micro­p­orous solids, all dis­cov­ered with­in the Cor­ma research group. His nov­el cat­a­lysts for paraf­fin iso­mer­iza­tion are wide­ly used in prac­tice because of their unprece­dent­ed sul­fur resis­tance and high sta­bil­i­ty and selec­tiv­i­ty. His col­lab­o­ra­tions with indus­try have led to new zeo­lites with sig­nif­i­cant poten­tial in cat­alyt­ic crack­ing because of their sta­bil­i­ty and desir­able prod­uct dis­tri­b­u­tions. Pro­fes­sor Cor­ma has pub­lished exten­sive­ly about applied aspects of het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis relat­ed to refin­ing tech­nol­o­gy. These pub­li­ca­tions have recent­ly explored the kinet­ics of organosul­fur reac­tions dur­ing crack­ing reac­tions and the details of hydroi­so­mer­iza­tion catal­y­sis on acid and bifunc­tion­al cat­a­lysts, all of which are of crit­i­cal impor­tance in sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, effi­cient ener­gy use and respon­si­ble man­age­ment of the envi­ron­ment.

His design of well struc­tured oxi­da­tion and hydro­gena­tion cat­a­lysts has lead to new cat­alyt­ic routes for the chemos­e­lec­tive of lac­tones (Nature, 412, 423 (2001); Chemos­e­lec­tive hydro­gena­tion of sub­sti­tut­ed nitroaro­mat­ics (Sci­ence 313, 332 (2006), Chemos­e­lec­tive syn­the­sis of azo­com­pounds (Sci­ence 322, 1661 (2008). He is now active­ly patent­ing and pub­lish­ing on well defined mul­ti­site sol­id cat­a­lysts for cas­cade reac­tions.

In addi­tion to his many out­stand­ing research accom­plish­ments, Avelino’s con­tin­ued lead­er­ship in the field has been rec­og­nized by numer­ous awards, includ­ing the Fran­cois Gault Award of the Euro­pean Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (2001), the Eugene Houdry Award of the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (2002), the Don­ald Breck Award of the Inter­na­tion­al Zeo­lite Asso­ci­a­tion (2004), and the Gabor A. Somor­jai Award for Cre­ative Research in Catal­y­sis (2008).