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Arno de Klerk

Professor, Industrial Research Chair


Chemical and Materials Engineering

About Me

Arno de Klerk obtained his formal qualifications at the University of Pretoria (Pretoria, South Africa). He holds B. Eng., B. Eng. Hons. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, as well as an M.Sc. degree in analytical chemistry. After obtaining his B. Eng. Degree in 1991, he started his career in forensic science at Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police in Pretoria. Initially he worked as analyst and later became manager of their precious metals analysis group. 

In 1994 he moved to industry, joining Sasol as a process engineer in their Research and Development division based in Sasolburg. After a year he took an internal transfer to their refining catalysis department, where he was responsible for catalysis research, as well as laboratory and pilot plant design. He became a registered professional engineer in South Africa in 1999. In 2001 he was appointed as research manager of the Fischer-Tropsch Refinery Catalysis group, being responsible for catalysis research related to conversion processes for upgrading Fischer-Tropsch syncrude to fuels and chemicals. In this capacity he directed applied industrial research, as well as fundamental research in collaboration with various universities. In 2009 he relocated from South Africa to Canada and took up his present position at the University of Alberta. He is the Nexen Professor in Catalytic Reaction Engineering and the NSERC / Nexen-CNOOC Ltd Industrial Research Chair in Field Upgrading and Asphaltenes Processing. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Applied Petrochemical Research”.


Conversion processes to produce fuels and chemicals, as well as their integration in upgrading facilities and refineries. Research interests have an industrial focus, but have both applied and fundamental components. The research has a bias towards reaction engineering and conversion chemistry, which is reflected in the reactor and analytical infrastructure of the group. Central themes that are of interest are: (1) Upgrading of oilsands bitumen, (2) Asphaltenes processing, (3) Conversion processes and fuels refining technologies, and (4) Fischer–Tropsch based facilities.

Keywords: Conversion processes, refining, upgrading, oilsands bitumen, coal, Fischer-Tropsch liquids