Catalysis is at the heart of almost every chemical transformation process and a detailed understanding of the catalytically active species and their related reaction mechanism is of great interest. It helps to refine the fundamentals of catalysis and, in a very practical manner, can help researchers to optimize existing catalyst formulations or develop completely new ones. Identifying catalytically active sites is like being a detective investigating an unsolved murder mystery: Who did it?; Where was he?; and Which tool was used? The challenge when playing this catalysis murder mystery game is that there are many suspects in crime and very often the usual suspects are merely acting as spectators only observing what is going on within a catalyst material. Furthermore, the detective characterization toolbox for catching the catalytically active species is still rather rudimentary and instrumental progress is clearly needed to further advance this field of research. The aim of this lecture is to show how complementary in situ spectroscopic approaches can deliver valuable structure-activity data at the level of a lab-scale reactor, mm-sized catalyst bodies, micron-sized zeolite grains and nanometer-sized metal particles under real reaction conditions. Attention will be placed on pushing the limits in the development of time- and space-resolved in-situ spectroscopy for characterizing heterogeneous catalysts at work.


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Bert Weckhuysen (41), born in Aarschot (Belgium) on July 27 1968, received his master degree in chemical and agricultural engineering with greatest distinction from Leuven University (Belgium) in 1991. After obtaining his PhD from Leuven University with honours in 1995 under the supervision of Prof. Schoonheydt, he has worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Wachs at Lehigh University (USA) and with Prof. Lunsford at Texas A&M University (USA). From 1997 until 2000 he was a research fellow of the Belgian National Science Foundation. He has been a visiting scientist at Hokkaido University (Japan), Amsterdam University (The Netherlands), Manchester University (United Kingdom) and Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel). Weckhuysen is since October 1 2000 full professor inorganic chemistry and catalysis at Utrecht University (The Netherlands). He has also been visiting professor at Leuven University in the period 2000-2005.

Weckhuysen authored or co-authored ~ 225 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals with an average number of citations per paper of about 25 and a Hirsch index of 41. Furthermore, Weckhuysen is the author of 21 conference proceedings publications, 16 national journal publications, 13 book chapters and 5 patents/patent applications. Furthermore, he is the editor of two books. He serves/served on the editorial board of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, ChemCatChem, Vibrational Spectroscopy, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Journal of Applied Chemistry, Applied Catalysis A: General, Topics in Catalysis, Catalysis Letters and Catalysis Today. He obtained prestigious VICI-CW NWO and TOP CW NWO grants from the Netherlands Science Foundation for his research work in 2002 and 2006, respectively. He also has received several research awards, including the 2006 Gold Medal from the Royal Dutch Chemical Society (KNCV), the 2007 DECHEMA Award from The Max Buchner Research Foundation (Germany) and the 2009 Netherlands Catalysis and Chemistry Award from the KNCV Catalysis Section and the Netherlands Organization of Catalysis Industries. Weckhuysen is scientific director of the Dutch Research School for Catalysis (NIOK) (since 2003) and of the Smartmix research program CATCHBIO on Biomass Catalysis funded by the Dutch government and chemical industries (since 2007), of which he has been one of the initiators.

Bert Weckhuysen is an elected member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), elected member of the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (NATI), elected member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences (KHMW) and fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). Weckhuysen serves on several boards and panels for national and international research, including e.g. the Executive Board of public-private cooperation Advanced Chemical Technology for Sustainability (ACTS).