Bob has a long and distinguished record in industrial research. Among his important contributions to industrial catalysis has been the development of catalysts for the abatement of engine emissions, in particular, diesel engines. One gauge of the impact of his discoveries in this area is in the $300 million sales they generated for his company of 30 years, now BASF Catalysts (formerly Engelhard Corporation). Another important discovery was the use of a zeolite additive to trap the heavy molecular weight hydrocarbon emissions during cold start, which allowed the technology developed originally for heavy duty engines to be used for diesel engines for passenger cars. This technology created a new paradigm in emission cleanup catalysts. Bob has also contributed to many other successful commercial developments. One such example occurred in 1986 when, as a co-inventor at Engelhard, he developed a fast light off ammonia oxidation catalyst for the production of nitric acid. This technology, commercially known as HyliteTM, is still in practice today. It enhances the light off of the catalyst gauze in hours as opposed to days. He and his team also developed the fundamental mechanism of the deactivation of the Pt recovery gauze. This knowledge, coupled with the HyliteTM catalyst technology, virtually eliminated this mode of deactivation, adding increased lifetime and nitric acid yield to the process. This has resulted in over $10 million in revenues for Engelhard. Within the last 7 years Bob and his team have pioneered in the development of precious metal catalyzed monoliths and heat exchangers for distributed hydrogen for fuel cells and the hydrogen economy. The team has commercialized over 25 new catalysts.
Bob’s innovations have spanned a wide range of areas involving reductants, oxidants, high and low temperature applications, liquid and gas phase reactants, and catalysts in pellet and monolithic forms. This broad patent portfolio is a strong testament to his creativity. His achievements have been recognized recently by the 2005 Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division Practice Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the 2001 Henry Albert Award for excellence in precious metal catalysis by the International Precious Metals Institute, and the 2000 Cross-Canada Catalysis Lectureship Award.
Also, Bob Farrauto has made remarkable contributions to educating students and mentoring young industrial colleagues, contributing to the scientific literature, and providing service to the catalysis community. Bob has a passion for teaching. He taught courses in industrial catalysis after his regular working hours at Engelhard at the nearby New Jersey Institute of Technology from 1990 to 1997. The excellence of his lectures was recognized by a teaching award given to the best Adjunct Professor. He continues his academic affiliation with his current position as Adjunct Professor in the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department at Columbia University in the City of New York. There he started the BASF-Columbia program to fund research for graduate students and post docs. It links Columbia and BASF through programs of mutual interest in environmental and green chemistry. He also co-authored two textbooks describing Industrial Catalytic Processes, one in collaboration with his colleague Ron Heck, the other with Professor Cal Bartholomew, and both books are currently in their second editions. In addition, he has contributed over 75 papers to the scientific literature ranging from reviews to contributions in new fields. He is a co-inventor of 50 US patents. He is a gifted lecturer and has presented his various research findings to a wide international audience. Bob has also served the catalysis community in many ways, including being responsible for the technical program at the very successful 2005 North American Catalysis Society Meeting in Philadelphia. He was the editor of Applied Catalysis B for North and South America for seven years.
Bob received his BS degree from Manhattan College in New York City and PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
President, North American Catalysis Society