Prof. Gabor Laurenczy

photo gabor laurenczy

Prof. Gabor Laurenczy was born and raised in Hungary, studying chemistry at Kossuth University in Debrecen and following his bachelor (1978) and doctoral (1980) studies became an assistant professor at the same university and obtaining a habilitation from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 1985, he took up a position at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, with chemistry transferring to the EPFL in 2001. In 2010, he was nominated professor.

While in Lausanne, Prof. Gabor Laurenczy applied his fundamental knowledge of reaction kinetics to study homogeneous catalysts, small molecule activation working extensively with medium pressure sapphire NMR tubes to detect catalytic intermediates and elucidate reaction mechanisms. His expertise was greatly appreciated by many people in the field and he was extremely collaborative and over the years he hosted more than 50 young researchers.

In 2008, Gabor and co-workers published a seminal paper on the discovery of a homogeneous water soluble ruthenium catalyst for the selective dehydrogenation of formic acid to hydrogen and carbon dioxide (Angew Chem Int Ed 2008; 47:3966e8). Remarkably, the catalyst overcame the limitations of previously reported catalysts, demonstrating both extraordinary stability and the ability to produce high pressures of hydrogen. A series of publications elaborating on the mechanism and describing other catalysts followed, and as the initiation invention was patented, a commercial process was realized together with a company. The next important progress was the development of non-precious metal based catalysts (Science, 2011; 333: 1733). Prof. Gabor Laurenczy was also determined to find more efficient processes to produce formic acid from the direct hydrogenation of carbon dioxide, and in 2014 reported on a base-free system that afforded formic acid in concentrations an order of magnitude higher than previously achieved (Nature Commun 2014; 5:4017). Again, this discovery led to much excitement in the community.

Prof. Gabor Laurenczy has continued to develop both sides of the formic acid-hydrogen/carbon dioxide cycle at both a fundamental level and also producing prototype reactors. Not surprisingly, based on his accomplishments, he has been invited to give many lectures worldwide and has written the benchmark reviews in the field.

Beyond his research, all those who know Prof. Gabor Laurenczy personally appreciate his warm and generous character. This short editorial to the IJHE special issue compiled in honor of Gabor Laurenczy on the occasion of his 65th birthday is a good opportunity to cordially thank him for his friendship. It has always been a great pleasure to be together with him and to enjoy his optimistic view of life, his humor and his wonderful and generous personality.

from International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Volume 44, Issue 53
(1 November 2019)