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Distinguished Lecture - New Operando Insights in the Catalytic Chemistry of Small Molecules

Distinguished Lecture - New Operando Insights in the Catalytic Chemistry of Small Molecules
Date & Time
May 6, 2021 (Thursday) | 4pm-5pm (HKT)
ZOOM online lecture (
Professor Bert Weckhuysen
Distinguished University Professor in Catalysis, Energy and Sustainability, Utrecht University

event poster

The selective activation of small molecules, such as CO, CO2, CH3OH and CH4, are of prime interest when we are moving towards a more sustainable society, which is less based on fossil resources, such as crude oil and coal. The catalytic chemistry of these small molecules requires a profound insight in their reactivity, including the formation of reaction intermediates as well as potential deactivation products. Hence, analytical methods have to be further developed, preferentially under realistic reaction conditions, i.e., the so-called operando approach, to investigate the surface chemistry of related solid catalysts capable of converting these small molecules.

In this talk, we will discuss the latest developments in operando spectroscopy and microscopy, thereby focusing on aspects of local temperature measurements, spatiotemporal assessment of reaction intermediates, as well as long-term measurements with both lab-based and synchrotron-based X-ray methods. These operando spectroscopic and microscopic measurements are supported by theoretical calculations. Four catalytic systems will be discussed: (1) Thermocatalytic activation of CO2, (2) Electrocatalytic activation of CO2, (3) Selective chlorination of CH4 and (4) Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

Playback video:

Professor Bert Weckhuysen

Speaker Professor Bert Weckhuysen

Distinguished University Professor in Catalysis, Energy and Sustainability, Utrecht University

Professor 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. 


Professor 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; funded by the Dutch government as well as the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC; 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 (, to foster the science and technology to produce fossil-free fuels and chemicals to create a circular society.


Professor 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 Academia Europaea; 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.