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Edited by Umit S. Ozkan Design of Heterogeneous Catalysts New Approaches based on Synthesis Characterization and Modeling Wiley-VCH 2009 322 pp

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Book Review
Published online in Wiley Online Library: 9 November 2010
( DOI 10.1002/aoc.1735
Book Review
Design of Heterogeneous Catalysts: New Approaches based on
Synthesis, Characterization and Modeling
Wiley-VCH, 2009, 322 pp.
price 139 euro (hardback)
ISBN-10 3-527-32079-2
As a student I was given the strong
impression that heterogeneous
chemistry was a black art. For
homogeneous catalysis, we were
presented with elegant catalytic
cycles involving a series of welldefined transformations and told
how the electronic and steric properties of ligands could be tuned to
affect rates, product distributions,
etc. In contrast, reactions using
heterogeneous catalysts were invariably presented with starting
material(s), a simple arrow above
which either the words, metal(s) or
metal oxide were inscribed, and below some high temperature
and pressure – the likes of which we could not imagine. This was
then followed by either a single species, which had somehow been
magically produced or, more often, a long list of products which
then led onto a discussion of various separation techniques. We
were certainly given no insight into the nature of the catalyst, its
structure, morphology, surface area, etc., all of which were deemed
to be far beyond the material we need to know. Indeed, if some
mechanistic insight was absolutely necessary, then a squiggly line
was used to define the ‘surface’ of this catalyst and various transformations were carried out on this line! Have things changed? A
quick glance at a prominent modern inorganic text book suggests
not – certainly at the undergraduate level. Yet in research the
seemingly well-defined domains of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis are melting away with each side trying to steal the
traditional advantages of the other while maintaining their own
high ground. The high ground of homogeneous catalysis is the
ability to design and fine-tune the catalytic center and it is not
surprising that the heterogeneous catalysis community have tried
to harness this in their work. Design of Heterogeneous Catalysts
provides an attempt to summarize the state of play in this area of
research. It is a beautifully produced book made up of a series of
chapters from key players in the field. Like all such texts, the quality
of individual contributions varies, but on the whole the standard
is high and the work summarised is very up to date. The subtitle
New Approaches based on Synthesis, Characterization and Modeling
begins to alert the reader to the diverse nature of the material
covered, most of which, but not all, is related to the design concept.
I would argue that there are also areas missing such as the use of
metal clusters as catalyst precursors, while the rapidly developing
area of nanoparticulate catalysts gets only a brief mention. There
are also some oddities; in one chapter the terms metal organic and
metal open frameworks seem to be interchanged at will without
sound reasoning and a few small (but amusing) errors: ‘try and
error’! Generally, however, the text is of a very high standard and
the editor and authors should be commended for their efforts. For
such a diverse range of chapters, I would have liked to have seen
a far more thorough introduction, with reasoning for the choice
of chapters, and some broader statements on the development of
the field from the editor. Instead we get a half-page preface which
merely serves to enlighten us as to the latest buzzwords in the
field. Sadly this suggests that the book has been put together less
logically then one might have hoped. My feeling is that individual
chapters will serve as good reference points for the specialist researcher and for this reason it is a good addition to a well-stocked
library. I fear that this is such a rapidly moving area of research
that, within a few years, much of the material will be dated and of
little use except as a historical marker.
Graeme Hogarth,
University College London, UK
Appl. Organometal. Chem. 2011, 25, 406
c 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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