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When the chemist Wilhelm Ostwald received the Nobel prize for his research on catalysis in 1909 he probably didn’t expect that his field of work would still be one of the most important topics in modern chemistry one hundred years later. Nevertheless all three Nobel Prizes in chemistry in the last years were given to scientists that worked in catalysis research.

One of them, Gerhard Ertl will be giving a talk on the catalysis happening when solids are coated with gossamer surfaces. The scientist got the Nobel prize in 2007 and named his speech “From atoms to complexity – reactions on surfaces”. In his opinion catalysis is an example for natural self organisation mechanisms.

As Wilhelm Ostwald described it in 1909, catalysis is the “acceleration of a slowly running chemical process by the presence of an external substance” and as such an inevitable component of modern chemistry. Most chemical reactions would be too slow without the addition of a catalysator to be useful in nowadays science.

Furthermore the 1997-Laureate John E. Walker (no pun intended) will we talking about “Energy conversion in biology” – a forecast on future fields for catalysis. Walker will be explaining how catalysis may be the key to an eco-friendly energy supply – once we understand how regenrative energies work and how we could produce and use enzymes in energy generation.

In the press release of the Lindau Meeting named “Creative Playmakers” there will be further details on this topic. And it also enunciates the hope that catalysis may be looking forward to a career of at least one hundred further years:

“One day the vision of a regenerative and eco-friendly hydrogen economy to supply our earth with energy may become reality.”


 » Jessica Riccò is an editor at ScienceBlogs Germany. Jessica_45.jpg

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