Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center
A Lifetime of Effort in Catalytic Research
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Paul Emmett, ca. 1980s.
Paul Emmett, ca. 1980s.

In the 21 years spent at The Johns Hopkins University, a considerable amount of miscellaneous catalytic and adsorption research was carried out. For example, the hydrogenation of ethylene and benzene were studied over iron catalysts, over Raney Nickel and over copper-nickel alloys. Also extensive surface area studies were made on carbon blacks, metal spheres, powdered glass and Vycor ("porous glass"). These were carried out concurrently with similar work in the literature and will not be further elaborated on in the present paper. It should, however, be pointed out that one of the projects to which I devoted a considerable amount of time during a portion of this period (1954-1961) was the editing of a seven-volume treatise on catalysis. It comprised a series of papers written by experts throughout the world. It was my job to select the topics to be covered and arrange the material in such a way as to give a broad and coherent coverage of the subject. I also had the pleasant task of critically reviewing each chapter submitted and making sure that any differences of opinion among the authors were carefully indicated in footnotes.

My publication list that reports all of the research that my colleagues and I have done includes 155 papers. An additional 10 remain to be published. These together will represent my participation in the efforts of the last 50 years to study new approaches to the elucidation of catalytic reactions and to help develop new tools such as the method for measuring surface areas of catalysts. It is hoped that some of our efforts will serve as a useful background for some of the excellent and revealing experiments that are being done with the new generation of high vacuum and electronic techniques that are now being brought to bear on surface chemistry studies.