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Changing the World for the Better: the Prominent Catalysis Chemist Gilbert Froment Gave Lectures in BIC and NSU

9 December 2016

In November Boreskov Institute of Catalysis and Novosibirsk State University hosted the lectures of Professor Gilbert Froment, a world-famous Belgian specialist in the field of catalysis. The lectures were organized by BIC.

Dr. Gilbert F. Froment is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at the University of Gent, Belgium, and Research Professor of Texas A&M University. Gilbert Froment's career and influence bridges the gap between academic kinetic and chemical reaction engineering studies, and application of that fundamental science to problems of industrial relevance.

Professor Gilbert Froment (left) and the organizer of his visit Professor Andrei Zagoruiko

Prof. Froment perfectly speaks five languages. He is known as the author of more than 350 papers in the international journals and the scientific supervisor of about 75 PhD students. As he says, most of them made great careers in industry, for his studies have always been connected with the problems of chemical technology. His book “Chemical Reactor Analysis and Design” (G.F. Froment, K.B. Bischof and J. De Wilde) became a classic textbook and is used in the university courses all over the world. According to Scopus, his works count more than ten thousands of citations and his Hirsch index is 58.

Today Prof. Froment continues his active research in the field of engineering aspects of oil refining and petrochemistry, consulting the largest national and international chemical, oil refining and petrochemical companies of the world, including Exxon Mobil, DuPont, BASF, Sabic, Synfuels China, Gazprom Neft.

Prof. Froment is a long-time friend of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis. Thirty years ago he came here for the first time to participate in a scientific meeting. Then the English language was not so widespread for communication in the Russian academic community, and often people from different countries used the language of mathematics. Since then Prof. Froment came to Akademgorodok several times more. In these years, he says, Akademgorodok changed greatly in the positive way. Now the scientists speak perfect English, and the students understand the lectures given in English. Professor also highlights the rise of Technopark, which, in his opinion, is extremely important for the future of Akademgorodok. Speaking of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis Professor characterizes it as a “very active”, where “prominent persons known to the whole world” work, and in this sense the Institute does not change, if only “in the positive way”.

Professor Froment is a permanent participant of the conferences organized by Boreskov Institute of Catalysis. In particular, he is a traditional member of the Scientific Committee of “Chemreactor”, a large international conference. This conference was held for the first time in the 1960s in the Institute of Catalysis. Since then it continues to grow and develop. In 2014, Prof. Froment together with BIC’s Academic Adviser Academician Valentin Parmon co-chaired the 1st Sci-Tech Symposium “Oil Refining: Catalysts and Hydroprocessing” successfully organized in St. Petersburg. In 2016, the symposium was held in Belgrade, Serbia, and received the status of international event. Prof. Froment once again took active part in the organization of the symposium as its co-chair. His plans include new joint scientific events in Europe and in Russia.

When asked about the most interesting tendencies in the studies in the field of catalysis, Prof. Froment says, “There is an increase in the possibilities in formulating in quantitative way the operation of the chemical industries because of the growth of the computers. So that has fastened the progress in the mathematical modelling of the processes which forces us to go deeper into understanding of the processes of the chemical industry. And that is being done in a more and more quantitative way because we formulate our knowledge in mathematical terms, which also make it easier to spread it all over the world.”

This time in Novosibirsk Prof. Froment read one lecture in Boreskov Institute of Catalysis and two lectures in Novosibirsk State University, held a number of work meetings with his colleagues.

“We don’t only talk about congresses, symposiums, meetings for the future, we talk about scientific subjects also. And how the things could be improved here, and how the things could be improved scientifically on my side. I’m still willing to learn, you know”, says Prof. Froment in his 86. “You know when people like Prof. Parmon, Prof. Noskov (BIC Deputy Director for Science), Prof. Zagoruiko and I get together we have all sorts of plans, how we’re going to change the world. Hopefully, for the better”.

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