Abstract: (click READ MORE to view)
The search for new or more effective solid catalysts would benefit when we could bridge the molecular world with the macroscopic world. Such detailed information can be realized if we would have access to a very powerful camera shooting molecular movies of an active catalytic solid at the level of single atoms and molecules. This is the field of operando spectroscopy. Recent breakthroughs in chemical imaging techniques, based on optical, electron and X-ray methods, demonstrate that such molecular movie concept is within reach. This lecture discusses the recent advances in spectroscopy and microscopy of solid catalysts with the aim to discuss challenges on the energy transition. Examples include hydrogen production through water electrolysis, thermocatalytic CO2 hydrogenation and electrocatalytic CO2 reduction. It will be shown how this better understanding of catalytic processes may be beneficial for transforming our society to a more sustainable one. The critical concept of such much needed transition towards a circular economy should be: reduce, reuse & recycle.
About the speaker:
Bert Weckhuysen is Distinguished University Professor Catalysis, Energy and Sustainability at Utrecht University. For years, his group has been trying to build a powerful camera to record what happens in a working catalytic solid. The long-term aim of this research is to bring this technology to a level that enables imaging catalysis at macro, meso and micro scales, from the reactor down to interactions between single atoms and molecules.
Weckhuysen has received several awards, including the Royal Dutch Chemical Society Gold Medal, the DECHEMA Award from The Max Buchner Research Foundation, the Netherlands Catalysis and Chemistry Award, the Eminent Visitor Award of the Catalysis Society of South Africa, the Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis of the North American Catalysis Society, the International Catalysis Award of the International Association of Catalysis Societies, the Ipatieff Lectureship in Catalysis from Northwestern University, the Bourke Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Spinoza Award from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Tanabe Prize in Acid-Base Catalysis from the International Acid-Base Group, the Xing Da Lectureship of Peking University, the Anderson Award from the Canadian Catalysis Society and the Ziegler Lectureship Award from the Max-Planck-Institut fur Kohlenforschung. In 2015 he has been appointed Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. In 2018 he received a Certificate for Achievements of the Christoffel Plantin fund for his contributions to the prestige and appeal of Belgium in foreign countries from the Belgian Ambassador in the Netherlands.
He currently directs two national research programs, namely a Gravitation research program on Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversions (MCEC; www.mcec-researchcenter.nl) funded by the Dutch government as well as the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC; www.arc-cbbc.nl) with a joint investment by government, businesses and universities. He was (one of) the main initiator(s) of these large research program initiatives. He also directs the European initiative, SUNERGY (www.sunergy-initiative.eu), to foster the science and technology to produce fossil-free fuels and chemicals to create a circular society.
Weckhuysen is an elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts, the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation, the Royal Holland Society of Sciences, and the European Academy of Science; an alumnus elected member of the Young Academy (DJA, 2005-2010) of the KNAW. Furthermore, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Association for Advancement of Science and ChemPubSoc Europe as well as an honorary fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society.