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International catalysis award for Cardiff professor

17 March 2021

Professor Graham Hutchings
Professor Graham Hutchings

Professor Graham Hutchings, Regius Professor in the School of Chemistry, has been awarded the 2021 Michel Boudart Award in Fundamental Catalysis by the European Federation of Catalysis Societies (EFCATS) and the North American Catalysis Society (NACS).

Professor Hutchings has been given the prize for his ‘groundbreaking’ work in the field of gold catalysis and selective oxidation catalysis.

His combination of industrial and academic experiences in both the UK and across the world, the prize-giving institutions say, has given Professor Graham Hutchings a research perspective that has enabled him to engage with complex catalysis problems, study them with ingenuity, and provide practical solutions through advances in basic science.

The Michael Boudart Award is presented biennially and recognizes and encourages individual contributions to the elucidation of the mechanism and active sites involved in catalytic phenomena and to the development of new methods or concepts that advance the understanding and/or practice of heterogeneous catalysis.

Professor Hutchings will be awarded a plaque and will give plenary lectures at the biannual meetings of both EFCATS and NACS.

Among his many successes, Professor Hutchings’ most valued discovery is that the precious metal gold has the remarkable ability to catalyse reactions much more efficiently than others that are used in industry.

Gold can be used in the reaction to produce vinyl chloride – the main ingredient of one of the world’s most commonly used plastic, PVC.

As a result of Professor Hutchings’ pioneering work, a gold catalyst is now being produced at a purpose built factory in China by global chemicals company Johnson Matthey in order to catalyse the production of vinyl chloride – the first time in over 50 years that a complete overhaul in catalyst formulation has been implemented to produce a commodity chemical.

Announcing the award, the organisations said Professor Hutchings contributions to the field have been diverse, impactful and highly appreciated and have kept the United Kingdom at the forefront of catalysis research over the years.

On receiving the award Professor Hutchings said: “I am honoured to receive this recognition by such prestigious organisations. The award is testament to the fantastic work in the field of catalysis that is taking place at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, together with our partners in academia and industry from all over the world.”