Professor Bert Weckhuysen of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science of Utrecht University (The Netherlands) is the recipient of the 2011 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis, sponsored by the Grace Davison operating segment of W.R. Grace & Co. and administered by The North American Catalysis Society. The Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. The plaque will be presented during the closing banquet ceremonies at the 22nd North American Meeting of the Catalysis Society to be held in Detroit, Michigan on June 5–10, 2011. Professor Weckhuysen will present a plenary lecture during this conference.
The Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis is given in recognition of substantial individual contributions in the field of catalysis with emphasis on discovery and understanding of catalytic phenomena, proposal of catalytic reaction mechanisms and identification of and description of catalytic sites and species.
Professor Weckhuysen is being recognized for his pioneering development and use of in-situ spectroscopic methods to probe solids at the micrometer and nanometer scale during their activation and their function as catalysts. These studies have led to fundamental insights into the distribution of active sites and the mechanism of molecular diffusion and deactivation phenomena in zeolite and Fischer-Tropsch catalysts. Specifically, spatial heterogeneities in activity, selectivity and coking within individual ZSM‑5 zeolite crystals were detected using a novel combination of micro-spectroscopy and rate data and interpreted in terms of complex but broadly applicable zeolite intergrowth models directly relevant to molecular diffusion and to mesoporosity generation during synthesis. In other studies, X‑ray microscopy combined with an in-situ reactor led to unprecedented details of nanoscale processes involved in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, especially as they pertain to the dynamic evolution and the catalytic relevance of the various inorganic and organic phases formed during catalysis.