D.B. Robinson Distinguished Speaker Series 2012-2013
— Andrew Main Lecture
Treasure hunting in catalysis by hierarchical zeolite design
This lecture overviews progress made over the last decade towards the precision design of hierarchically-structured zeolites. While primarily targeting an enhanced catalytic performance in established industrial processes, excitingly this work opens unprecedented applications where conventional zeolites are not suited. Through selected examples associated with acid, base, and bifunctional catalyzed reactions considering traditional (oil-derived) and potential future (renewable) substrates, I will quantitatively illustrate the spectacular benefits attained due to the improved access and molecular transport in zeolite crystals with hierarchical porosity. The inexhaustible post-synthetic toolbox to transform any conventional zeolite into superior hierarchical analogues with tunable porosity, composition, and acidity will be illustrated.
In the second part of the talk, focus will shift towards aspects related to the industrial manufacture of these porous solids. Any chemical engineer knows that a critical step in the implementation of lab-designed catalysts is their scale up into technically-relevant forms. However, this topic has never received much attention in academic research. Through the example of hierarchical zeolites, the need to establish rational scale up principles to increase the odds of successfully implementing improved catalytic technologies will be emphasized. In particular, multicomponent mm-sized hierarchical zeolite bodies will be visualized over the whole span of length scales through strategic combination of state-of-the-art microscopic and tomographic techniques. This approach accesses key information about the structural organization, which underlies their superior catalytic function.
Javier Pérez-Ramírez (Benidorm, Spain, 1974) has been Full Professor of Catalysis Engineering at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zurich, since January 2010. He inherited the Chair of Prof. Alfons Baiker.
He studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Alicante, Spain (1997) and earned his PhD degree cum laude at TUDelft, the Netherlands (2002). He worked for Norsk Hydro and Yara International in Porsgrunn, Norway (2002-2005) and returned to academia as ICREA research professor and group leader at ICIQ in Tarragona, Spain (2005-2009). He spent sabbaticals in UC Berkeley (2007) and University of Caen (2009).
He has published over 210 articles (current h-index 39) and is co-inventor of 13 patents, 4 of which are under industrial exploitation. He has delivered more than 150 lectures in conferences, universities, research institutes, and companies around the world.
Prof. Pérez-Ramírez pursues the scientific understanding and technological development of new catalytic materials and reactor engineering concepts favoring more sustainable manufacturing processes within the present and future chemical industry. The word ‘sustainable’ connotes intensified processes with an improved exploitation of raw materials, wider use of renewable feedstocks, reduction of energy consumption, and minimized environmental impact.
A recent achievement, in tight collaboration with Bayer MaterialScience, comprises the development of the development of novel catalysts for chlorine recycling for the manufacture of polyurethanes and polycarbonates, two of the most versatile current synthetic polymers. This breakthrough catalytic technology is now commercially operational.
His contributions have been recognized by several awards, such as the Dow Energy Prize (2002), the KNCV Prijs (2003), Most Cited Author 2001-2005, Journal of Catalysis, Elsevier Science (2006), the Journal Grant for International Authors, Royal Society of Chemistry (2007, 2009), the Otto-Roelen-Medal (2012), the UOP-Honeywell Invitational Lecturer (2012), and the Andrew Main lectureship at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta (2013).
He plays an active editorial role as an Associate Editor of Catalysis Science and Technology and as a member of the editorial boards of Advanced Functional Materials, ACS Catalysis, Applied Catalysis B, and Catalysis Communications. He is the Swiss representative in the European Federation of Catalysis Societies.