Robert Farrauto is the 2008 F. G. Ciapetta Lecturer

Robert Far­rauto

Robert Far­rauto

It is my plea­sure to announce that Dr. Robert Far­rauto of BASF’s Catal­y­sis Research is the 2008 F. G. Cia­pet­ta Lec­tur­er. This award is spon­sored by Grace Davi­son Cat­a­lysts and admin­is­tered by The North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. The award is giv­en in recog­ni­tion of sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tions to one or more areas in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on indus­tri­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant cat­a­lysts and cat­alyt­ic process­es and the dis­cov­ery of new cat­alyt­ic reac­tions and sys­tems of poten­tial indus­tri­al impor­tance. The Award con­sists of a plaque, an hon­o­rar­i­um and addi­tion­al mon­ey is avail­able to cov­er trav­el­ing expens­es to vis­it many of the local clubs in North Amer­i­ca. Fur­ther details about this Award and its his­to­ry may be found in the Awards Fold­er of the NACS web­site, The local clubs should con­tact Dr. Far­rauto direct­ly (732–205-5306) to make trav­el arrange­ments.

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.
John Armor
Pres­i­dent, North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety