Press release ¤ Information de presse
The DECHEMA Award 2007 of the Max Buchner Research Foundation is conferred on
Professor Bert M. Weckhuysen, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands,
in recognition of his excellent developments of combined in-situ spectroscopic methods and their application to industrial catalytic processes.
The award will be conferred in the course of a solemn colloquium in the house of DECHEMA, Theodor-Heuss-Allee 25, in Frankfurt/Main on November 30, at 4:00 pm.
The Award of the Max Buchner Research Foundation has been conferred annually since 1951 by DECHEMA, Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, for outstanding research in the fields of applied chemistry, process engineering, biotechnology, and chemical apparatus. Preference is given to younger scientists whose work is fundamentally important and successfully combines theory with practical application. The Award comprises an honorary certificate, a gold medal and a prize of 20,000 Euro.
Catalysts live and up close: Probing catalytic solids with in-situ spectroscopy
Catalysts are the workhorses of chemical industry since more than 80% of chemicals have come into contact with at least one catalyst material during their manufacturing process. Catalytic solids can also be extremely complex: porous solids with high surface areas, for example, possess many different potential active sites in their structure. Determining the active site in these materials and elucidating their related reaction mechanism remain intellectual challenges. They are of paramount importance for the road to the so-called rational design of catalysts, offering prospects of improved formulations of existing catalysts, and the possibility to create more effective and selective catalysts from scratch.
Rational design remains in most cases a pipe dream: the experimental tools available for monitoring catalysts as they work are still, in the main, too rudimentary. Professor Bert Weckhuysen’s research at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands) is focusing on the development of combined time-resolved in-situ spectroscopic methods, which allow studying both reaction and deactivation mechanisms of industrially relevant catalytic reactions. He is considered as one of the leaders in this important field of catalysis and has developed e.g. a spectroscopic method to determine online coke amounts in a catalytic reactor. One of the practical outcomes of this research is the current development together with several companies of an online control device of a catalytic reactor based on in-situ spectroscopy. Besides, his research approach is unique in the sense that catalytic phenomena are studied at different length scales; i.e., from the level of the reactor and catalyst extrudates down to that of catalyst grains and e.g. nanometersized metal clusters.
Bert Weckhuysen was born in Aarschot (Belgium) in 1968 and graduated from the University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven) in 1991 with greatest distinction in the field of Agricultural and Che-mical Engineering. In 1995 he obtained from K.U.Leuven a PhD degree with honors in spectroscopy of heterogeneous catalysts under the supervision of Professor Robert A. Schoonheydt. He then moved to the USA for postdoctoral studies with Professor Jack H. Lunsford (Texas A&M University) and Professor Israel E. Wachs (Lehigh University) extending his knowledge in catalyst characterization. After returning to Belgium in 1997, he worked as a National Science Foundation fellow at K.U.Leuven and received in 1998 the K.U.Leuven Research Council award for his pioneering work in the field of in-situ spectroscopy. In 2000 he was appointed as Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands). Since 2003 he is scientific director of the Netherlands Institute for Research in Catalysis (NIOK).
The central theme of his research group is the development of structure-activity relationships and expert systems in the field of heterogeneous catalysis and materials science. Special emphasis is placed on the development and use of advanced in situ characterization techniques, preferably in a combined fashion. Many industrial relevant reactions are under study, often in close collaboration with major chemical industries and catalyst producers. The same approach is currently used by his research team to study the fundamental aspects of catalyst preparation. Another area of interest is the molecular design of transition metal ion complexes in inorganic hosts for catalytic and sensor applications. Enzymes, the most effective catalysts in nature, are the inspiration source for this research.
Bert Weckhuysen is a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (AcTInl) as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Weckhuysen received for his research the prestigious VICI award from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO-CW) in 2003 and Gold Medal of the Royal Dutch Chemical Society (KNCV) in 2006. He also serves on the editorial boards of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Catalysis Letters, Topics in Catalysis, Catalysis Today, Applied Catalysis and the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
About DECHEMA e.V.
The DECHEMA (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology) is a non-profit making scientific and technical society based in Frankfurt on Main. It was founded in 1926. Nowadays it has over 5000 private and institutional members. Our aim is to promote research and technical advances in the areas of chemical engineering, biotechnology and environmental protection. Our work is interdisciplinary, with scientists, engineers, and technologists working together under one roof. Experts from science, business, and government departments cooperate in working parties and subject divisions.