prof. dr. ir. B.M. (Bert) Weckhuysen
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Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis
Date of appointment 01.10.2000
Inaugural lecture date 04.10.2001

Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at Utrecht University, since 2000

Distinguished Professor of the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University (2012-2017)

Distinguished University Professor of Utrecht University, since 2018


Bert Weckhuysen at TEDxBinnenhof 2014:

Strategic themes / Focus areas

Operando Spectroscopy and Microscopy Approach for the Characterization of Solid Catalysts

Picture of the Research Group - November 2017

Picture of the Research Group - March 2018

Picture of the Research Group - March 2018

Together with Thomas Hartman, Marjolein Velthoen and Maarten Jongkind - Demonstrating the beauty of heterogeneous catalysis and playing with one nickel atom and a nickel cluster

Together with Koen Bossers and Guusje Delen - Inspecting the operando UV-Vis micro-spectroscopy set-up for heterogeneous catalysis research

Together with Iris ten Have - In front of the combined operando Raman-UV-Vis-XRD set-up

Together with Laurens Mandemakers - Inspecting the atomic force microscopy set-up positioned in the glovebox

Together with Charlotte Vogt in the laboratory - Solar fuels set-up for converting carbon dioxide into methane

Surprised to see how the students have decorated my office door the day I turned 50 years old! Thank you!
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Curriculum vitae Download PDF

Prof. Bert Weckhuysen (50) received his master degree in chemical and agricultural engineering with greatest distinction from Leuven University (Belgium) in 1991. After obtaining his PhD degree from Leuven University with honours (highest degree) in 1995 under the supervision of Prof. Robert Schoonheydt, he has worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Israel Wachs at Lehigh University (USA) and with Prof. Jack 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). Weckhuysen has been appointed as the first Distinguished Professor of the Faculty of Science at Utrecht University as of September 2012. He has been a visiting professor at Leuven University (2000-2005) and did a sabbatical at Stanford University (USA, 2012). He is currently a visiting professor at Stanford University & SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2013-onwards) and University College London (UK, 2014-onwards). In January 2018 he has been promoted to Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University. 

Weckhuysen authored or co-authored ~ 500 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals with an average number of citations per paper of ~ 48 and a Hirsch index of 80. Furthermore, Weckhuysen is the author of ~ 20 conference proceedings publications, ~ 30 other journal publications and editorial material and ~ 30 book chapters. He is the co-inventor on 3 patents and 8 patent applications. Furthermore, he is the (co-) editor of three books.

He serves/served on the editorial advisory boards of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, ChemCatChem, ChemPhysChem, Vibrational Spectroscopy, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Journal of Applied Chemistry, Applied Catalysis A: General, Topics in Catalysis, Catalysis Letters, Chemical Society Reviews, Faraday Discussions, Chem, Catalysis Today, The Journal of Catalysis and Angewandte Chemie.

He obtained prestigious VICI (2002), TOP  (2006 and 2011) and Gravitation (2013) grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). In 2012 he has been awarded an Advanced ERC grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

Weckhuysen has received several research awards, including the:

- 2006 Gold Medal of the Royal Dutch Chemical Society

- 2007 Dechema Award of The Max Buchner Research Foundation

- 2009 Netherlands Catalysis and Chemistry Award

- 2009 Eminent Visitor Award of the Catalysis Society of South Africa

- 2011 Paul H. Emmett Award of the North American Catalysis Society

- 2012 International Catalysis Award of the International Association of Catalysis Societies

- 2013 Vladimir N. Ipatieff Lectureship in Catalysis of Northwestern University

- 2013 John Bourke Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry

- 2013 Spinoza Award of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

- 2017 Kozo Tanabe Prize in Acid-Base Catalysis of the Acid-Base Group

- 2017 Xing Da Lectureship of Peking University

- 2018 Robert B. Anderson Award of the Canadian Catalysis Foundation

- 2019 Karl Ziegler Lectureship of the Max-Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung

Weckhuysen was the scientific director of the Dutch Research School for Catalysis (NIOK) in the period 2003-2013 and of a Smartmix research program Biomass Catalysis funded by the Dutch government and chemical industries (CatchBio; 2007-2016; ~29 M€; Currently, he directs a Gravitation research program on Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversions (MCEC; 2013-2023; ~32 M€; funded by the Dutch government as well as the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC; 2016-2026; 11 M€/year, with a joint investment by government, businesses and universities. He was (one of) the main initiator(s) of these large research program initiatives.

Weckhuysen is also:

- An elected member of the European Academy of Sciences (Academia Europaea, 2010-onwards), the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW, 2011-onwards), the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts (KVAB, 2015-onwards); the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (ACTI, 2009-onwards) and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences (KHMW, 2010-onwards);

- An alumnus elected member of The Young Academy (DJA) of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (2005-2010);

- An elected fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC, 2007-onwards), American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2015-onwards) and ChemPubSoc Europe (2015-onwards).

He is a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion (2015) and 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 (2018).

Weckhuysen serves on many boards and panels for national and international research.

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Selection of Multidisciplinary Journal Publications:

  1. F. Meirer, B.M. Weckhuysen, Spatial and temporal exploration of heterogeneous catalysts with synchrotron radiation, Nature Reviews Materials 2018, 3, 324.
  2. I. Yarulina, A. Dutta Chowdhury, F. Meirer, B.M. Weckhuysen, J. Gascon, Recent trends and fundamental insights in the methanol-to-hydrocarbons process, Nature Catalysis 2018, 1, 398.
  3. B.M. Weckhuysen, Communicating catalysts, Nature Chemistry 2018, 10, 580 (News & Views article).
  4. I. Yarulina, K. De Wispelaere, S. Bailleul, J. Goetze, M. Radersma, E. Abou-Hamad, I. Vollmer, M. Goesten, B. Mezari, E.J.M. Hensen, J.S. Martinez-Espin, M. Morten, S. Mitchell, J. Perez-Ramirez, U. Olsbye, B.M. Weckhuysen, V. Van Speybroeck, F. Kapteijn, J. Gascon, Structure-performance descriptors and the role of Lewis acidity in the methanol-to-propylene process, Nature Chemistry 2018, 10, 804.
  5. C. Vogt, E. Groeneveld, G. Kamsma, M. Nachtegaal, L. Lu, C.J. Kiely, P.H. Berben, F. Meirer, B.M. Weckhuysen, Unraveling Structure Sensitivity in CO2 Hydrogenation over Nickel, Nature Catalysis, 2018, 1, 127.
  6. B.M. Weckhuysen, Solid Catalysts under the Spotlight, Nature Catalysis 2018, 1, 101 (News & Views Article).
  7. A. Dutta Chowdhury, K. Houben, G.T. Whiting, S.H. Chung, M. Baldus, B.M. Weckhuysen, Electrophilic Aromatic Substitution over Zeolites generates Wheland-type Reaction Intermediates, Nature Catalysis 2018, 1, 23 (commented in News & Views article by Teresa Blasco).  
  8. J.E. Schmidt, R. Oord, W. Guo, J.D. Poplawsky, B.M. Weckhuysen, Nanoscale Tomography Reveals the Deactivation of Automotive Copper-exchanged Zeolite Catalysts, Nature Communications, 2017, 8, 1666.
  9. Y. Liu, F. Meirer, C.M. Krest, S. Webb, B.M. Weckhuysen, Relating Structure and Composition with Accessibility of a Single Catalyst Particle using Correlative 3-dimensional Micro-spectroscopy, Nature Communications, 2016, 7, 12634.
  10. B.M. Weckhuysen, Porous Materials: Zeolites Shine Bright, Nature Materials 2016, 15, 933 (News & Views article).
  11. D.E. Perea, I. Arslan, J. Liu, Z. Ristanovic, L. Kovarik, B.W. Arey, J.A. Lercher, S.R. Bare and B.M. Weckhuysen, Determining the Location and Nearest Neighbors of Aluminum in Zeolites with Atom Probe Tomography, Nature Communications 2015, 6, 7589.
  12. F. Meirer, S. Kalirai, D. Morris, S. Soparawalla, Y. Liu, G. Mesu, J.C. Andrews, B.M. Weckhuysen, Life and Death of a Single Catalytic Cracking Particle, Science Advances 2015, 1, e1400199.
  13. W. Luo, M. Sankar, A.M. Beale, Q. He, C.J. Kiely, P.C.A. Bruijnincx, B.M. Weckhuysen, Highly Active, Selective and Stable Supported Nano-alloys for the Hydrogenation of Levulinic Acid to Gamma-valerolactone, Nature Communications 2015, 6, 6540.
  14. P.C.A. Bruijnincx, B.M. Weckhuysen, Biomass Conversion: Lignin Up for Break-down, Nature Chemistry 2014, 6, 1035 (News & Views article).
  15. I.L.C. Buurmans, B.M. Weckhuysen, Heterogeneities of Individual Catalyst Particles in Space and Time as Monitored by Spectroscopy, Nature Chemistry 2012, 4, 873.  
  16. E.M. van Schrojenstein Lantman, T. Deckert-Gaudig, A.J.G. Mank, V. Deckert, B.M. Weckhuysen, Catalytic Processes Monitored at the Nanoscale with Tip-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, Nature Nanotechnology 2012, 7, 583.
  17. I.L.C. Buurmans, J. Ruiz-Martinez, W.V. Knowles, D. van der Beek, J.A. Bergwerff, E.T.C. Vogt, B.M. Weckhuysen, Catalytic Activity in Individual Cracking Catalyst Particles Imaged Throughout Different Life Stages by Selective Staining, Nature Chemistry 2011, 3, 862 (commented in News & Views article by Peng Chen).
  18. L. Karwacki, M.H.F. Kox, D.A.M. de Winter, M.R. Drury, J.D. Meeldijk, E. Stavitski, W. Schmidt, M. Mertens, P. Cubillas, N. John, A. Chan, N. Kahn, S.R. Bare, M. Anderson, J. Kornatowski, B.M. Weckhuysen, Morphology-dependent Zeolite Intergrowth Structures leading to Distinct Internal and Outer-surface Molecular Diffusion Barriers, Nature Materials 2009, 8, 959.
  19. B.M. Weckhuysen, Heterogeneous Catalysis: Catch Me if You Can!, Nature Chemistry 2009, 1, 690 (News & Views article).
  20. E. de Smit, I. Swart, J.F. Creemer, G.H. Hoveling, M.K. Gilles, T. Tylisczak, P.J. Kooyman, H.W. Zandbergen, C. Morin, B.M. Weckhuysen, F.M.F. de Groot, Nanoscale Chemical Imaging of a Working Catalyst by Scanning Transmission X-ray Microscopy. Nature 2008, 456, 222 (commented in News & Views article by Alexis Bell).
  21. B.M. Weckhuysen. Catalysts Live and Up Close. Nature 2006, 439, 548 (News & Views article).

Publication Track Record:

  • Hirsch-index of 80 (based on 27 years of research, including the 4-years PhD period)
  • Author or co-author of ~ 500 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which have attracted ~ 24,600 citations (Web of Knowledge analysis of September 15, 2018).
  • Author/co-author of high-impact multidisciplinary and chemistry articles: Nature (# = 1 + 1 News & Views), Nature Reviews Materials (# = 1), Nature Materials (# = 1 + 1 News & Views), Nature Nanotechnology (# = 1),  Nature Chemistry (# = 3 + 3 News & Views), Nature Catalysis (# = 3 + 1 News & Views), Nature Communications (# = 4), Science Advances (# = 1), Chemical Reviews (# = 3), Chemical Society Reviews (# = 6), Accounts of Chemical Research (# = 1), Angewandte Chemie-International Edition (# = 53), Chemical Science (# = 2), Journal of the American Chemical Society (# = 30), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (# = 1) and Chemical Communications (# = 18).
  • Author/co-author of articles in proceedings (# = 21), other scientific journals (# = 17), editorial material (# = 13) and books (# = 28).
  • Guest editor of themed scientific journal issues: Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics (# = 3), Catalysis Today (# = 1), ChemSusChem (# = 1), ChemPhysChem (# = 1), Topics in Organometallic Chemistry (# = 1), Green Chemistry (# = 1), Topics in Catalysis (# = 1) and Chemical Society Reviews (# = 2).
  • Editor or co-editor of three scientific books.

Granted Patents and Patent Applications:

A. Granted Patents:

  1. United States Patent 9,956,547 (2018). Preparation of polyglycerols. Inventors: A. Kaiser, B.M. Weckhuysen, D. Leinweber, F. Kirby, F.X. Scherl, H.J. Metz & P.C.A. Bruijnincx.
  2. United States Patent 9,095,844 (2015). Catalyst for glycerol aqueous phase reforming and preparation thereof. Inventors: Y.M. Chung, T. J. Kim, S.H. Oh, D. Ayse Boga, P.C.A. Bruijnincx & B.M. Weckhuysen.
  3. United States Patent 8,370,082 (2013) & European Patent 2 142 908 B1 (2010). Method for predicting a physical property of a residue obtainable from a crude oil. Inventors: P. de Peinder, F.A.J. Singelenberg, T. Visser & B.M. Weckhuysen.
  4. United States Patent 7,476,374 (2009). Catalytic destruction of halogenated hydrocarbons. Inventors: B. Weckhuysen, R. Schoonheydt & P. Van der Avert.

B. Patent Applications:

  1. United States Patent Application 2017/0266651 A1 (2017). Process for the manufacture of alcohol and/or ketone. Inventors: S. Chouzier, L.F. Rascon Cruz, B.M. Weckhuysen & S. Mastroianni.
  2. Patent Cooperation Treaty International Patent Application WO 2016/135268 A1 (2016). Method for preparing a chemical compound using a ruthenium metal catalyst on a zirconium oxide support in the presence of a contaminant. Inventors: J. Ftouni, P.C.A. Bruijnincx & B.M. Weckhuysen
  3. Patent Cooperation Treaty International Patent Application WO 2015/026234 A1 (2015). Supported monometallic and bimetallic catalysts for the hydrogenation of levulinic acid. Inventors: W. Luo, M. Sankar, P.C.A. Bruijnincx, B.M. Weckhuysen.
  4. Patent Cooperation Treaty International Patent Application WO 2012/177138 A1 (2012). Process for the liquid-phase reforming of lignin to aromatic chemicals and hydrogen. Inventors: J. Zakzeski, P.C.A. Bruijnincx & B.M. Weckhuysen.
  5. European Patent Application EP 2014362 A1 (2009). Metathesis of chlorinated waste compounds. Inventors: A.W.A.M. van der Heijden, J.H. Bitter & B.M. Weckhuysen.
  6. European Patent Application EP 1961726 A1 (2008). Process for the conversion of glycerol and catalytically active material suitable thereof. Inventors: A.M. Ruppert & B.M. Weckhuysen.
  7. Patent Cooperation Treaty International Patent Application WO 2005/082815 A1 (2005) & European Patent Application EP 1564198 A1 (2005). Heterogeneous chromium catalysts. Inventors: C. Nenu, P. Bodart & B.M. Weckhuysen.

The complete list of peer-reviewed publications can be found at the personal webpage of Bert Weckhuysen.

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The Weckhuysen group has been active for many years in the design, synthesis, characterization and application of catalytic solids for the conversion of fossil (crude oil & natural gas) and renewable (biomass) feedstock into transportation fuels, chemicals and materials. More recently, research is devoted to the catalytic activation of CO2 and the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The group is internationally renowned for the development of in-situ and operando spectroscopy and microscopy for studying catalytic solids under realistic conditions. This approach has provided unique insights in the working and deactivation mechanisms of catalytic processes, as well as in the internal architecture of solid catalysts.

The goal is to shed detailed new insight in the working principles of catalytic solids while they really work (i.e. high temperatures and pressures, and real-life conditions) and to achieve this he strives to build a “powerful camera” to chemically image heterogeneous catalysts from the level of the reactor down to the level of single atoms and molecules.

  • Development and use of advanced spectroscopic methods applied on heterogeneous catalysts during preparation and real operation in order to develop structure-activity relationships for catalytic processes. Systems of interest are supported metal and metal oxide catalysts, zeolites as well as metal organic frameworks and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks. The main emphasis is on space- and time-resolved UV-Vis, Raman, IR, and fluorescence spectroscopy as well as X-ray absorption spectroscopy and diffraction methods, often in a combined or even integrated fashion. Catalytic reactions under study are methane and light alkanes activation, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, fluid catalytic cracking, methanol-to-olefins, automotive catalysis as well as selective oxidation, biomass-derived oxygenates hydrogenation/hydrodeoxygenation and olefin polymerization reactions.
  • Catalytic conversion of biomass and waste to transportation fuels and bulk chemicals, more specifically the valorization of polyols, e.g. glycerol and sugars, via telomerization, hydrogenolysis and etherification, valorization of lignin and humins and related model compounds and the conversion of C5- and C6-sugars, including the selective hydrogenation of sugar-derived compounds, such as levulinic acid. This also includes the use of spectroscopy for monitoring biomass conversion processes in the liquid phase (i.e., water at relatively high temperatures and pressures), including issues as catalyst stability.
  • Synthesis and characterization of ordered porous materials with catalytic potential. The focus is on the fundamental understanding of assembly processes of porous oxides, the development of spectroscopic tools to evaluate the synthesis parameters and the structural aspects of porous materials, including intergrowth structures, spatiotemporal zoning of elements, such as aluminum, and the processes of dealumination and desilication. The materials focus is on molecular sieves, including zeolites and metal organic frameworks. More recently, this topic has been extended to the detailed investigations of thin-films making use of atomic force microscopy in combination with vibrational and electronic spectroscopy, such as infrared, Raman and fluorescence microscopy.
  • Molecular design of transition metal ion complexes in inorganic hosts for catalysis and adsorption. Enzymes, the most effective catalysts in nature, are the inspiration source for this research. Catalytic reactions of interest are NO decomposition, methane activation and selective oxidation reactions. More recently this also involves photo-catalytic applications, including solar fuels generation, including the construction of thin-films, which could separate and adsorb light molecules, such as CO2, and activate them with light or renewable electricity, harvested from wind or solar panels.

More information can be found at the research page of Bert Weckhuysen.

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Additional functions and activities

This page is only available in Dutch.

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Full name
prof. dr. ir. B.M. Weckhuysen Contact details
David de Wiedgebouw

Universiteitsweg 99
Room 4.82
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 4328
Phone number (department) +31 30 253 7400
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Last updated 15.09.2018