Beller: Catalysis is a route to sustainable development on Earth

Matthias Beller is one of the world's most important professionals on catalysis.
Photo: Martina Šaradínová
monday 6. may 2019, 12:00 – Text: Martina Šaradínová

Mathias Beller, an expert on chemical catalysis and organic/organometallic chemistry from the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, University of Rostock, spoke about the key role of catalysis in sustainable development as part of the latest Rudolf Zahradník Lecture Series. He explained the principle of catalytic processes and outlined how they can contribute to, e.g. a higher quality of life on earth, ensuring a sufficient supply of food, garnering cleaner energy, and developing new materials.  

“Catalysis takes place everywhere, all around us. It’s a way to control and make chemical processes faster, making production faster, cheaper, and more environmental friendly. It’s one of the fundamental ways to sustainable development on Earth,” said Prof Beller, who focuses on catalytic processes, high pressure chemistry, and synthesis of biologically active agents. The major goal of the institute he manages is to transfer research results into industrial practice. “Our institute investigates about 40 projects per year in collaboration with companies from all around the world. I personally focus on, in addition to industrial applications of catalysis, the synergy of catalytic systems and the use of less precious metals for catalysis,” added Beller. 

The highly acclaimed chemist appreciated the work of the UP Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) scientists published in cooperation with Italian colleagues from the University of Trieste in the journal Advanced Materials. The paper reports on a unique method that can accelerate diverse chemical reactions, for example, in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. “It’s an interesting paper that opens up a number of possibilities in the field. Catalysis is a major issue, arousing worldwide interest,” said Beller, also a most highly-cited researcher.

His visit to Olomouc and primarily to RCPTM will lead to further collaboration, as he disclosed. “In Olomouc, you can develop new materials and we have extensive experience with catalytic applications, which seems to be a very good platform for collaboration,” said Beller. 

Prof Beller has obtained an advanced ERC grant, and been awarded various honorary doctorates and other prizes including a Dr Karl Wamsler Innovation Award. He repeatedly appears in the Highly Cited Researchers list, with an H-index of 124, and more than 1000 publications, many in the most prestigious journals, such as Science, Nature, Nature Chemistry, and Nature Catalysis.

The Rudolf Zahradník Lecture Series is named after Rudolf Zahradník, former chairman of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, a pioneer on Czech quantum chemistry, and founding member of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic. Since its start in 2013, the most significant personalities in chemical and materials research have given talks in their fields. The series is presided over by Radek Zbořil, RCPTM General Director.