ACS Awards recognize catalysis efforts

This years ACS Awards cite two of our col­leagues in the catal­y­sis area

  • Pro­fes­sor Israel E. Wachs of Lehigh Uni­ver­si­ty receives the George A. Olah Award in Petro­le­um or Hydro­car­bon Chem­istry. For more infor­ma­tion refer to
  • Aveli­no Cor­ma, a pro­fes­sor and direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Chem­i­cal Tech­nol­o­gy at Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­si­ty of Valen­cia, in Spain, work is rec­og­nized with the Gabor A. Somor­jai Award for Cre­ative Research in Catal­y­sis

Gabor A. Somor­jai Award for Cre­ative Research in Catal­y­sis is spon­sored by the Gabor A. & Judith K. Somor­jai Endow­ment Fund.

More info on Pro­fes­sor Cor­ma (tak­en in part from C&E News, Jan. 21, p. 55 by Mitch Jaco­by) — One area of research asso­ci­at­ed around the world with Cor­ma’s name is zeo­lites. Cor­ma’s group has designed, syn­the­sized, and found impor­tant appli­ca­tions for dozens of these micro­p­orous crys­talline cat­alyt­ic solids. For exam­ple, a num­ber of his group’s nov­el zeo­lites that are relat­ed to the min­er­al mor­den­ite are com­mon­ly used indus­tri­al­ly for paraf­fin iso­mer­iza­tion due to their uncom­mon­ly high sta­bil­i­ty, chem­i­cal selec­tiv­i­ty, and resis­tance to sul­fur poi­son­ing. Cor­ma and cowork­ers have pre­pared many oth­er zeo­lite-type mate­ri­als, includ­ing some that fea­ture unusu­al­ly large pores, inter­con­nect­ing chan­nels, and an excep­tion­al degree of inter­nal open­ness. Those mate­ri­als are use­ful for dealky­la­tion of bulky aro­mat­ic com­pounds, crack­ing of petro­le­um oils, and oth­er types of refin­ing appli­ca­tions.

Oth­er exam­ples of the Cor­ma group’s inven­tive­ness include new­ly devel­oped sup­port­ed gold cat­a­lysts that selec­tive­ly reduce aro­mat­ic nitro groups and oth­er types of cat­a­lysts used to pre­pare fine chem­i­cals and chi­ral com­pounds. In addi­tion, Cor­ma and cowork­ers have designed instru­men­ta­tion that has been com­mer­cial­ized, includ­ing a sys­tem for high-through­put syn­the­sis of zeo­lites and oth­er cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als.

Cor­ma, 56, was born into a farm­ing fam­i­ly in east­ern Spain. He says he was des­tined to remain a farmer with min­i­mal school­ing, but his par­ents’ desire for their son to obtain an edu­ca­tion changed his life for­ev­er. Fas­ci­nat­ed by sci­ence in high school, Cor­ma chose to study chem­istry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Valen­cia and com­plet­ed an under­grad­u­ate degree there in 1973. In 1976, he com­plet­ed Ph.D. stud­ies in catal­y­sis at the Span­ish Nation­al Research Coun­cil, in Madrid, and then con­duct­ed post­doc­tor­al research at Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty, in Kingston, Ontario. After serv­ing in a num­ber of oth­er aca­d­e­m­ic posi­tions, Cor­ma found­ed the insti­tute in Valen­cia for which he now serves as direc­tor. Cor­ma has pub­lished more than 600 papers in peer-reviewed jour­nals and is an author of some 90 inter­na­tion­al patents, more than 20 of which have been licensed for com­mer­cial devel­op­ment. He has served as direc­tor for more than 25 Ph.D. stu­dents and is ranked among the 50 most cit­ed chemists in the past decade.

The award address will be pre­sent­ed before the Divi­sion of Chem­i­cal Edu­ca­tion.