Prof. Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez
Chair of Catalysis Engineering

ETH Hönggerberg
HCI E125
Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 1
CH-8093 Zurich

tel: +41 4463 37120
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Prof. Pérez-Ramírez (1974) pursues the design of heterogeneous catalysts and reactor concepts devoted to sustainable technologies. The latter secures the efficient utilization of natural resources, the transition to renewables, reduced energy consumption and waste, and minimized environmental impact. Topics of current interest include natural gas functionalization, carbon dioxide valorization, biomass to chemicals and fuels, the manufacture of specialty chemicals, and the rational understanding of catalyst scale up. He is responsible for educating undergraduate students at ETH Zurich in reaction engineering and catalysis, emphasizing the vital importance of these disciplines to tackle the current and future energy and environmental challenges of society.

Career Summary

2012‑2014 Chairman of the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zurich
2010‑  Full Professor of Catalysis Engineering, ETH Zurich
2005‑2008 Associate Professor, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
2005‑2009 ICREA Professor, Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, Tarragona, Spain
2003‑2005 Senior Scientist at Yara International, Porsgrunn, Norway
2002-2003 Scientist at Norsk Hydro, Porsgrunn, Norway


1998‑2002 PhD Catalysis (cum laude), Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. Catalyzed N2O Activation: Promising (New) Catalysts for Abatement and Utilization. Advisors: Profs. F. Kapteijn and J.A. Moulijn
1993‑1997 MSc in Chemical Engineering with highest distinction, University of Alicante, Spain

Publications Summary

- Authored or co-authored over 420 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals
- >14000 citations, with an average of ~32 citations per paper
- Hirsch index: 64 (Web of Science), 71 (Google Scholar)
- Inventor of 17 patents/patent applications, 4 of which exploited industrially
- Authored or co-authored 5 book chapters
- Supervised 14 completed doctoral theses

Awards and Honors

2017 Sustainable Energy Award, Royal Society of Chemistry
2014 Beilby Medal and Prize, Society of Chemical Industry and Royal Society of Chemistry
2013 EFCATS Young Researcher Award, European Federation of Catalysis Societies
2013 Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
2013 Andrew Main Lectureship, University of Alberta
2012 Otto-Roelen Medal, Dechema
2012 UOP-Honeywell Invitational Lectureship
2003 KNCV Prijs voor Katalyse, Dutch Catalysis Society
2002 Dow Energy Dissertation Award, The Dow Chemical Company

 Other Indicators of Esteem

- Associate Editor of Catalysis Science & Technology, RSC Publishing
- Serves/served on the editorial and/or advisory board of Advanced Functional Materials, Applied Catalysis B, ChemCatChem, Catalysis Communications, and ACS Catalysis
- Delivered >20 keynote and >5 plenary lectures in international conferences, and >200 invited lectures worldwide
- Chairman of SwissCat, the Catalysis section of the Swiss Chemical Society
- Representative of the European Federation of Catalysis Societies council
- Member of the executive committee of the Division of Chemical Research of the Swiss Chemical Society
- Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, American Chemical Society, Swiss Chemical Society, and Dechema
- Member of the Scientific Advisory Board to several institutions, e.g., Max-Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mulheim, Germany, ICREA, National Institute of Chemistry Slovenia, etc.
- Consulting activities for several companies and agencies in the field of petrochemistry, oil and gas conversion, fertilizers, materials characterization, and environmental catalysis
- Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley (2007) and Ensicaen (2009)

Natural gas valorization
Catalyst and reactor design for the halogen-mediated functionalization of natural gas constituents and for their further conversion into valuable products.

Electrocatalytic CO2 valorization
Design of nanostructured catalysts based on earth-abundant materials for electroreduction of CO2 into liquid and gaseous products aiming at the implementation in (photo)electrochemical devices.

Thermocatalytic CO2 valorization
Development of metal (oxide) catalysts and reactor concepts for the selective hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol, higher alcohols, and formic acid, which serve as chemical intemediates, fuels, fuel additives, and hydrogen carriers.

Biomass valorization
Design of sustainable chemocatalytic processes for the conversion of renewables into valuable products. This includes the upgrading of a wide range of bio-based compounds (crude bio-oil, hemicellulose, monosaccharides, sugar-derived platforms, and glycerol) to chemicals, polymer buiding blocks, and transportation fuels over acid-base, redox, or bifunctional materials.

Synthesis-property-function relations in industrially-relevant catalysts
Development of spectroscopy, microscopy, and tomography methods applied during the preparation and operation of heterogeneous catalysts to establish synthesis-structure-activity relations in the targeted catalytic processes. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the evolution and impact of physical and chemical properties within multicomponent materials with technical geometries, aiming to rationalize the scale up and ultimately maximize the performance in industrial reactors. This involves frequent cooperation with ScopeM and neutron/synchrotron facilities.

Pore connectivity in hierarchical materials
Development of advanced tools, including positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy, scanning gas sorption techniques, and microscopy methods, to quantitatively assess the complex pore architecture in hierarchically-structured materials, such as zeolites, carbons, and clays.

Single-atom/ensemble heterogeneous catalysis
Precision design of active single atomic centers or ensembles in heterogeneous catalysts. This is approached through the stabilization of metal atoms on versatile carriers as carbon nitride, controlling the defect chemistry of metal oxides, and the development of tailored acid, base, and redox centers in micro-/mesoporous materials.

Selective hydrogenation
Design of size- and shape-controlled metal (oxide) nanoparticles for the selective hydrogenation of functionalized substrates. This also includes the modification of metal nanoparticles with ligands to alter activity and selective patterns via electronic/geometric effects.

Our current projects are sponsored by ETH Zurich, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Energy Programme, the European Union, and industrial partners including Covestro, Total, DSM, and Micromeritics.  

Prof. Pérez-Ramírez has been active for 18 years (including a 4-year PhD period and 4 years in industry) in the discovery and understanding of heterogeneous catalysts and reactor concepts devoted to sustainable technologies for the production of chemicals and fuels. His group works at the interfaces of chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science and is internationally renowned for the design of novel catalytic materials amenable to industrial implementation. In the period 2010-2015, his group has generated notable accomplishments in different research fields including hierarchical zeolites, halogen recycling, single-atom catalyst, catalysis with ceria, and renewables valorization. Read more.

529-0617-00L | Catalysis Engineering

529-0633-00L | Heterogeneous Reaction Engineering

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Delivering a lecture in an inspiring hall at SECAT 2015