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Prof. Bernard Delmon – The heterogeneous catalysis community is celebrating an inspiring scientist

May 22, 2014

A Special Issue of Applied Catalysis A presents a collection of papers honouring Professor Bernard Delmon on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

 Contributions from around the world

This issue gathers contributions from researchers who have worked with Professor Delmon in our laboratory as PhD students, post-docs or visiting professors. Internationally recognized scientists who have been inspired by him participate with enthusiasm to this celebration. This collection of article is a nice testimony of the important and significant contributions of Bernard Delmon to fundamental and applied catalysis.


Professor Bernard Delmon

Inspiration for novices

My own career started after Prof. Delmon retired from his academic duties in our lab and I unfortunately have only had few opportunities to have scientific discussions with him. I was however impressed by the respect and recognition that the community devotes to him – whether in the lab or at international conferences. I know him as a hard worker and a passionate scientist. I can remember Prof. Delmon seeming to fall asleep during an oral presentation but waking up when the paper is open to discussion and making the most useful comments of all. I also remember him reading the issues of Chinese Journal of Catalysis in our library… in Chinese! He actually speaks 7 languages. As a young academic in the research group he has founded back in time, I genuinely can feel the stimulation towards excellence and open-mindedness.

An impactful career

Bernard Delmon’s professional career started at the Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) (1959-1970) and he later switched to an academic career at the Université catholique de Louvain. His professional activity encompasses a wide and diverse scientific spectrum. His main research interests are in the preparation of dispersed solids and catalysts, the control of solid state reactivity; catalysis: hydrotreating, selective oxidation, biomass transformation, acid catalysis; surface mobility phenomena; physico-chemical characterization of dispersed solids with complicated architecture; the mobility of small chemical species on surfaces; spill-over and remote control (in hydrotreating, selective oxidation, oxygen-aided dehydration). He has often proposed new models and interpretations opposed to generally accepted ones, thereby promoting discussions and debate in the community.

A durable legacy

The list of Bernard Delmon’s achievements and awards is huge and I just mention some specific points here. He has co-edited 18 books and special issues of journals and has been an author of more than 600 research papers and 18 patents. Bernard Delmon also took part in some major editorial enterprises, which started with the launch, in 1981, of Applied Catalysis (as editor-in-chief) and continued with Catalysis Today, Applied Catalysis B, Environmental, and with the “red book” collection of Studies in Surface Science and Catalysis (see picture). Remarkably, he has founded the series of PREPA symposia (“International Symposium on the Scientific Bases for the Preparation of Heterogeneous Catalysts”). The 11th meeting will be held in July 2014, again hosted by our laboratory, with Bernard Delmon still participating in the organising committee! (see what make this conference so special in this post).

This collection of papers originating from former students and collaborators, who are now established in various locations across the globe, is illustrative of Bernard Delmon’s achievements as a team leader, a great scientist and also a citizen of the world.


(this post blog is inspired in parts by the editorial of Profs. E. Gaigneaux and P. Ruiz)

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