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by Margarita RYASHENTSEVA , Dr . Sc. (Chemistry), N.D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences
Last year, in 2002, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University played host to the Sixth All-Russia Conference on the mechanisms of catalytic reactions. One of its sessions-about the mechanism of catalysis of membranes-was devoted to the 80th birth anniversary of Academician Vladimir Gryaznov (1922 - 2001). The scientific community paid tribute to the memory of a major researcher in physical and organic chemistry, and catalysis. His accomplishments are known far and wide, both in this country and abroad.
Vladimir Gryaznov entered the Chemical Department of Moscow State University in 1939. With the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War against Germany in 1941 the district committee of the Young Communist League sent him to a rifle battalion to defend Moscow. For his service in the ranks Gryaznov merited a medal. Demobilized for reasons of ill health in December 1941, he resumed his studies at the University.
His chief tutor and then colleague was Andrei Frost, a prominent scientist and teacher, and head of the Chemistry Chair. Dr. Frost specialized in kinetics and catalysis. This part of physical chemistry deals with the mechanisms and rates of chemical reactions proceeding in the presence of catalysts, or substances changing their rate but not found in the end products. Studied in this field are of great practical significance. Dr. Frost advised Gryaznov to take up palladium catalysts.
His work got top marks from veteran chemists; in 1948 Gryaznov won an academic degree of Candidate (Master) of Chemical Sciences. The following year, in 1949, a book was off the press which he co-authored together with Dr. Frost: Statistical Methods of Calculating Thermodynamic Values, this country's first on the problem. For years it was used as a teaching aid.
Meanwhile the young chemist expanded his range of research. In the 1950s, working together with Viktor Yagodovsky, he was the first in the Soviet Union to obtain an infrared spectrum of carbon adsorbed by a film of palladium. Thereupon, jointly with Vladislav Shimulis, he registered enhanced catalytic activity of a platinum film after rapid cooling. The dean of catalysis studies, Academician Alexei Balandin, gave his active support to these new lines of research.
In 1962 Vladimir Gryaznov defended his doctoral thesis on the kinetics and mechanism of conversions of some hydrocarbons on metals; soon after, he was appointed head of the Chair of Physical and Colloid Chemistry at Moscow's Friendship University. For undergraduates, Dr. Gryaznov read lectures on physical chemistry, catalysis and history of chemistry; and graduate students heard his lectures on heterogeneous catalysis. In addition, Prof. Gryaznov prepared a course on physical chemistry, structure of matter and catalysis.
From 1964 to the end of his days Dr. Gryaznov combined his regular work with a job at the A.V Topchiev Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis (of the USSR, and since 1991, of the Russian Academy of Sciences), where he headed a laboratory of catalysis. From 1981 on, for fifteen years, Dr. Gryaznov headed a research laboratory of catalysis on metal-containing membranes at Friendship University's Chair of Physical and Colloid Chemistry (today the
Institute of Catalysis and Ecology at Russian Friendship University). This laboratory was involved with applied research the results of which soon found practical use. Those were above all the high-grade sensors of hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide which V. Gryaznov developed in cooperation with Yuri Serov and Sergei Ghizhevsky.
In 1969 the journal Doklady Akademii nauk (Reports of the Academy of Sciences) carried Dr. Gryaznov's article "Catalysis on Selective Permeability Membranes" that, in fact, ushered in a new research trend. He and his coworkers developed innovative methods and techniques for obtaining useful organic compounds, something that merited author's certificates of the USSR as well as patents in Britain, Germany, Italy, France, the United States and Japan. The same year, in 1969, Dr. Gryaznov and his team discovered the phenomenon of coupled reactions on membrane catalysts; and in 1987 he was awarded a diploma for discovering the ability of dimer vapor of metals to catalyze reactions of organic compounds.
His communications and reports on these subjects, clear and well articulated, always excited keen interest. Prof. Gryaznov spoke at representative forums in this country and abroad, in particular, at the Gordon Conference on IR spectroscopy, at Mendeleyev congresses and at congresses on catalysis held in the United States, Britain and Japan. His report in San Francisco at a meeting of the Materials Science Society (USA) and the discussions that followed in the 1990s showed the advantages of sensors developed at Russian Friendship University over those in the United States.
Having a perfect command of English, Dr. Gryaznov made his reports in this language at international forums just as explicitly as in Russian. When in the late 1990s one of the US universities invited him to lecture on membrane catalysis, the organizers had misgivings whether his lectures would attract an audience large enough, for a poor command of the language or bad pronunciation might interfere with understanding. %t the hall was packed foil at the very first lecture. That was always the case when Dr. Gryaznov took the floor.
His works in print were just as in-depth. Dr. Gryaznov had as many as 500 publications to his name, including more than fifty monographs. He was an editorial board member of the Russian-published journal Neftekhimia (Petrochemistry), and of the international journals published in English, Catalysis Letters and Catalysis Today. He helped prepare many books for print, and edited the 1995-published work on Academician Alexei Balandin.
Dr. Gryaznov likewise edited works by foreign authors ever since the 1960s. In 1994 the author of the present article during her stay in The Netherlands payed a visit to Mrs. Jan de Bur, the widow of the eminent chemist. One of the books caught my eye, and that was The Dynamic Nature of Adsorption in Russian edited by Gryaznov. Taking a close look, I saw Vladimir Gryaznov's signature-he presented the Russian edition of the book as a keepsake.
Owing to his great talent and dedication, Dr. Gryaznov won great respect in scientific quarters. In 1981 he was elected corresponding member, and nine years later, foil member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He was also elected honorary member of the International Academy of Higher School Sciences.
Attending the First European Congress on Catalysis (France, 1993), Academician Gryaznov opened the foil-scale session of the congress with a lecture on membrane catalysis. And at the 1996 seminar in Italy organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Academician Gryaznov reported on inhibitors being developed at Russian Friendship University against the catastrophic warming of the global atmosphere. The same year Vladimir Gryaznov chaired at the Moscow-held Second International Conference on catalysis (involving membrane reactors), which was attended by leading scientists of Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, France, the United States and Japan. Recognized as a great authority on chemistry all over the world, Academician Gryaznov received invitations to lecture at universities of Great Britain, the German Democratic Republic and Federal Germany, Egypt, Kenya, the United States and Japan.
I had the good fortune to communicate with this wonderful man for well over fifty years. I took great interest in the palladium catalysts he was studying-they were the object of my own studies as well. Dr. Gryaznov watched closely my works as an exacting referee and editor. With much gratitude do I recall his substantive comments and textual remarks meant to improve the wording of my materials. This was particularly true of the results on the physicochemical studies of catalysts. He cautioned against all too specialist terminology and against hasty conclusions about processes occurring, say, on the surface of catalysts.
My last work which I carried out with Dr. Gryaznov's assistance dealt with the catalytic characteristics of samples obtained from high-temperature gases of Kudryavy, a volcano on the Iturup Island in the Kuriles. The point is that high concentrations of rhenium had been detected there. * Vladimir Gryaznov showed much interest for the newly obtained results and published an article in the journal Fizicheskaya khimia (Physical Chemistry), a periodical which he had been editing as its editor-in-chief for twenty years.
Academician Gryaznov would never spread himself thin on trifles, and that is why he accomplished so much. He has left a good legacy-books, articles, inventions and discoveries. And he has reared a grateful following.
* See: V. Goldman, "Rhenium From Volcanic Gas", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2001. -Ed
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