The chemist Avelino Corma Canós (Moncofa, 1951), who is the founder and the former director of the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ), a joint research centre of the Universitat Politècnica de València(UPV) and the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), has been awarded the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, along with the American chemists Mark E. Davis and Galen D. Stucky, this morning in Oviedo.
Corma's nomination to this award was submitted by the Governing Council of the UPV and supported, among others, by Santiago Grisolia (1990 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research). It was selected by a jury chaired by Pedro Miguel Echenique Landiríbar and composed of the following members: Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferreras, Juan Ignacio Cirac Sasturáin, Luis Fernández-Vega Sanz, Cristina Garmendia Mendizábal, María del Rosario Heras Celemín, Bernardo Hernández González, José Manuel Leceta García, Emilio Lora-Tamayo D'Ocón, José Antonio Martínez Álvarez, Amador Menéndez Velázquez, María Teresa Miras Portugal, Ginés Morata Pérez, Enrique Moreno González, César Nombela Cano, Eduardo Punset Casals, Marta Sanz-Solé, Manuel Toharia Cortés and Vicente Gotor Santamaría (as secretary).
Corma: "It is a recognition for Spanish chemistry"
Visibly happy, Corma said that "this award is a recognition for Spanish chemistry. It is a prize to its silent and constant work, to its efforts, and represents an incentive to keep up the work, and to work even harder, in this exciting profession of ours."
The UPV-CSIC researcher added that his research seeks "a more sustainable chemistry, one which is more compatible with the environment."
Compliments of the jury
The jury highlighted the "scientific and technical contributions" of the winners, who "have opened new and very important lines of work at the frontiers of current knowledge, with applications in many diverse fields, such as reducing the polluting emissions of vehicles and factories, and improving food, water purification and petroleum refining processes, and the chemical industry in general."
Corma, Davis and Stucky occupy, in the words of the jury, "a leading position internationally in the field of the creation of new materials, particularly microporous and mesoporous ones."
The former are characterized by having a structure with pores less than two nanometers in diameter; among them are zeolites, natural or artificial aluminosilicates with extraordinary properties as absorbents and industrial catalysts. The latter have pores of up to 50 nanometers in diameter and comprise substances such as various kinds of silica, alumina or oxides of various mechanical elements.
An outstanding curriculum
Avelino Corma (Moncofa, 1951) has an outstanding curriculum. He graduated in Chemistry from the Universitat de ValÃ¨ncia, and in 1976 he earned a PhD at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. After two years of studies at Queen's University in Kingston (Canada), he joined the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in 1979 as a researcher, and as a research professor in 1987.
Between 1990 and 2010 Corma directed the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ), a UPV-CSIC joint centre which is regarded as one of the centres of reference in the field of catalytic processes, and where he currently works as a research professor.
An international authority in the field of heterogeneous catalysis
Corma, who is acknowledged as an international authority in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, is currently working on the creation of a new composite material consisting of nanopores which are formed by the self-assembly of organic and inorganic molecules
Molecular-sized cavities and pores are used to generate confined spaces and active sites which change the structure and the reactivity of the molecules, leading to catalytic processes that take place with higher selectivity.
Among the 25 most quoted chemists in the world
Corma is the author of 120 patents, has written three books and has published over 900 articles in international journals. He ranks among the 25 most quoted chemists in the world -being the first Spaniard in that list.
In Nature -a journal which received the 2007 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities- Corma published a new concept for the synthesis of molecular sieves that enables the synthesis of zeolite A as, among other things, an additive to catalysts for the petrochemical and refining industry. Science -which also received the 2007 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities- published another of his works, on a gold nanoparticle catalyst that reduces the nitro group of a molecule without altering the other groups, and which can be applied to fighting cancer.
Corma has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from ten universities and is a foreign member of the Royal Society, London -which was granted the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities Award. Among the awards he has received are the Spanish National Research Award (1995), the G. Ciapetta Award (USA, 1998), the Rey Jaime I Award (Spain, 2000), the François Gault European Catalysis Award (2002), the Breck Award of the International Zeolite Association (2004), the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry Award (2006), the Gabor A. Somorjai Award (USA, 2008), the Boudart Award in Advanced Catalysis (USA, 2009) and the ENI New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons Award (Italy, 2010).