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He went to Paris . . . July 2004 A multimedia presentation by Paul Matter. Trip Summary. July 8 th - Arrived in Paris for 2 hours then took a train to Lyon July 8 th – 11 th - Visited Lyon, the IRC, and the IFP July 11 th – 17 th - The 13 th ICC in Paris

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He went to Paris . . .

July 2004

A multimedia presentation by

Paul Matter

trip summary
Trip Summary

July 8th - Arrived in Paris for 2 hours then took a train to Lyon

July 8th – 11th - Visited Lyon, the IRC, and the IFP

July 11th – 17th - The 13th ICC in Paris

July 17th – 19th - Visited Brugge, Belgium

July 19th – 21st Visited Amsterdam, The Netherlands

July 22nd - Left from Paris for the U.S.

troubles speaking french
Troubles Speaking French

We arrived in France both hungry and tired. I used my petit French vocabulary to ask how to get to the train station. I learned that if I asked a question in French that they would answer in English, but if I asked a question in English, they would answer in French. With the extensive signage and my ability to ask simple French questions, it was easy to get around.

At the train station we decided to get sandwiches. They all come on a really long and skinny loaf of bread (baguette). There were people all over carrying these big loaves of bread around, usually smiling. I tried to order something simple in French; 2 ham and cheese sandwiches. The girl gave me a ham sandwich, and a cheese sandwich. The ham looked like raw bacon, so we split the cheese sandwich and ate the bread from the other one. I tried to order lemonade, but the girl suggested flavored water, so I took it. It turned out to be peppermint flavored water. Despite some initial hesitation due to the similarity of the taste with mouthwash, I fell in love with the drink. Not only does it quench your thirst, but it also freshens your breath.

train ride
Train ride

We took the TGV to Lyon. Here is what the French countryside looks like while passing by at 200 mph (click on the picture to start the movie):

lyon sites
Lyon Sites

Lyon was a pleasant, very French city situated where the Rhone meets the Saone River. Here are some of the sites:

Square with lion statues and carousel. There were lion statues all over the city, each painted differently. I counted at least 13.

Church overlooking old Lyon. Old Lyon has a maze of narrow passages between the streets, le resistance used them to fight the German occupation, I was told.

lyon sites6
Lyon Sites

We climbed to the top of the hill to see the old Roman theater (built in the 1st century A.D.):

The theater, where they still have shows at night during the summer.

My sister sitting on an old column in the ruins.


The people of Lyon were very friendly and they seemed to love Americans with the exception of George Bush, although Fredric (seated below) didn’t think Bush is bad. Fahrenheit 9/11 opened while we were there, they all loved it. There were many narrow streets for foot traffic only, that were lined with cafes and shops. One of the café owners grabbed me, and made my sister and I try the wine and champagne they were drinking. I liked the Dom Perignon best. They were eager to talk politics, and new more about U.S. politics than most Americans. Besides the U.S., the countries of Spain, Italy, and Brazil are popular amongst the French. Whenever attractive girls walked by the guys would yell, “oo la la, oo la la!”. They could not recruit any one else to sit with them other than my sister, myself, a girl from Spain (Francesca), and an Italian (forgot his name).

Kristen drinks a “real” Bellini apertif.


There was some work to be done in Lyon. I visited the Institute for the Research of Catalysis (IRC), where they have around 30 professors and about 200 researchers from 3 universities altogether studying catalysts. The labs and equipment looked similar to our stuff, but below are some things I found interesting. I didn’t get pictures of their in-situ STM set-up or the combinatorial catalyst testing reactors with wells for 16 samples, but that was interesting too.

A mass spec for analyzing products at the bottom of the reactor with millisecond resolution. Made in UW of St. Louis, the prof did his post-doc there. He was a nice guy from Holland (Yves Schurrman) who once backpacked across South America.

On-line High Purity Liquid Chromatography. Just like a G.C. only liquid.

lunchtime ifp
Lunchtime / IFP

After the tours they took us to lunch at the IFP which is sort of a national lab for petroleum research. Lunch lasted 2.5 hours, and the tables didn’t have chairs. One of the ladies from the IRC convinced my to try the wine and I ended up having about 4 or 5 glasses. She was nice, although I can’t remember her name. Her daughter went to school at Georgia and lives in Paris now. She was going to visit her in Paris the following week, but said she wouldn’t talk to me if she saw me there, because she would be on vacation and didn’t want anything to do with the conference. I also met a guy with an Irish accent. I asked him if he was Irish and he replied, “Sacre bleu!”. He was French (from Lyon), but had lived in Dublin for 2 years. He works for an Irish company and it is his job to travel around France to see what people are researching. Sounded like a cool job.

After lunch I slept through a couple presentations. Yves said he tried to sleep, but complained that the music on the videos was too loud. The Irish/French guy said he slept okay.

Next, we toured the labs. Everything was brand new and organized to the point of absurdity. They had a lot of equipment for preparation of large catalyst batches (up to 10 kg). The also had automatic powder pelletizers and machines that counted pellets and separated them by size. They had lab scale bench top reactors all the way up to pilot plants that were 1/10th the size of refinery reactors. I don’t think they cared much about characterization there, just actvity testing.



I couldn’t take pictures of everything at the IFP (some areas were restricted), but here is some cool stuff I saw:

6-port adsorption instrument. They also had a 6-port pre-treatment unit.

Small gas feed set-up with on-line GC for time-on-stream testing. Has 4 separate reactors, each with its own feed that can be humidified. Everything is fully automated, and is controlled by a computer on the left.

back to paris
Back to Paris

After a couple good meals and a festival next to the Rhone, it was time to leave Lyon and return to Paris via the TGV.

Our first night in Paris we were greeted with the opening reception for the conference. This included all the wine you can drink and hors d'oeuvres, although it was difficult to find anything with meat,as it was mostly sweets and Matt Yung’s favorite, brie cheese. Fortunately I scouted out the conference center before the banquet and found an alternative entrance that saved us from waiting in the mob to get in. I only saw one single filed line in France, Erdal (Dr. Ozkan’s husband) was in it waiting for wine when my sister and I cut ahead of them without realizing it until we had our wine. Unfortunately I didn’t really meet new people at the banquet, probably since my sister was there to talk to. I did get to talk to Yeping Cai an alumni from our group who works at SudChemie. Erdal also hung out with us since Dr. Ozkan kept talking to people he didn’t know.

Yeping and myself, just chillin’

sir john meurig thomas
Sir John Meurig Thomas

One of the most interesting people I met was Sir John Meurig Thomas, his friends call him Sir Thomas. He is a prof at Cambridge and a real English knight (Queen Elizabeth knighted him in 1991, just like Paul McCartney and Mic Jagger). He liked to ask questions after all the talks. I heard him ask about 5 questions, each of which lasted an average of 10 minutes and included the history of the technique he was asking about and how he knew or worked with the person who developed the technique. He also pronounced methane like Rick does, “meethane”. I wanted to ask him for his autograph or get my picture taken with him, but I thought that might annoy him. He was at the talks by the de Jong group that I found myself magnetized too.

de jong group from holland friends with sir thomas
de Jong Group – from Holland (friends with Sir Thomas)

The de Jong group was the first to start using 3-D TEM for catalysis (the 12th ICC). Their presentations were the most visually awing. They also did some innovative stuff with nano-fibers. Their first paper I saw was on making fish-bone nano-fibers and then putting different oxygen functional groups on the surface (usually using acids) to see the effects on the properties on the fiber as a support for metal particles.

They did a lot of characterization of the Ni/SiO2 precursor to the carbon fibers. Different preparation techniques (sol-gel, co-precipiation, wet impregnation, or incipient wetness) led to different properties, and sometimes strange adsorption/desorption characteristics resulted. 3D-TEM results with stunning images showed three examples where particles had non-ideal dispersions that varied from preparation technique to technique:

Egg-shell covering can occur with incipient wetness

Filling of bottom of U-shapes silica pores with Ni (wet imp.)

Blocking of pores with particles

All these morphologies can be recognized from 3D-TEM. If you have unexplainable adsorption results or strange differences in properties that aren’t explainable by normal characterization, you may want to keep this in mind. (see Zieze, Applied Cat. A v260, 2004)

more nano stuff
More Nano Stuff

I saw many other interesting presentations. Resasco from Oklahoma ( used catalysts to prepare SWNT’s (nanotubes). They used Fe, Ni, and Co supported by MgO. Everything could then be dissolved with HCl leaving behind the carbon. The group then found that certain strands of DNA could be used to separate the tubes from their bundles. Some strands were even selective for specific types of SWNT’s.

Reshetenko et al. from Russia looked at the plane angle of nano-fibers prepared from methane using different catalysts on alumina. Observations I found interesting include the effect of particle size on the product. They saw that 100-150 nm particles got encapsulated, while particles in the range of 25-45 nm worked best for fiber growth. Different catalysts had different fish-bone angles.

There was also a poster by Haller at Yale on a BJH method to get carbon nano-tube size distribution that I want to look into, although I’m not sure if it is any different than BJH particles size distribution.

other stuff
Other Stuff

Co-precipitation - A German group presented on the effects of aging Cu/ZnO catalyst precipitates before washing with water. The group showed stark differences in activity and characterization depending on the aging time.

In situ Conductivity – A very interesting technique that I have dreamt of but never realized how to carry out is testing the electrical conductivity of catalysts while running a reaction or various treatments. Jean-Marc Millet’s group (friends with Dr.Ozkan) presented data on such an experiment. Dr. Ozkan might have the experimental details, but we should definitely have the necessary equipment in our lab if we can design a reactor set-up.

Kuhn’s Experiments – The Duprez group who brought us some interesting papers on spillover effects reported an experiment that John would like. They took the IR spectra of a sample while performing an isotopic O16 to O18 switch. On a Ce/ZrO2 sample peaks were reported at 1126 cm-1 for O216, 1094 cm-1 for O16O18, and 1062 cm-1 for O218. On some samples the mixed species didn’t form, but the addition of Pt or Rh lead to the mixed species formation.

uv raman set up
UV-Raman set-up

Stair et al. from the U.S. (I think Northwestern), characterized a coking reaction in situ using UV Raman. A schematic of the set-up is shown here:

The technique could differentiate between poly-ethylene type (1-D carbon), poly-aromatic (1-D carbon chain), and 2D (graphite sheets) that formed on catalysts.




Porous disk

EM shaker

Flow in

sites of paris
Sites of Paris

There was more to see in Paris than the conference . . .

Arc de Triomphe

Sacre Coeur

Notre Dame

dance party on the river
Dance Party on the River

Monday night they had a dance party on a barge on the Seine. We met Ben and Florencia there. They both go to school in Munich, but Valencia is from Argentina. Ben is German so he doesn’t like to dance, but Florencia is really good. Florencia got a hold of my camera and took the following pictures:

dance party on the river19
Dance Party on the River

The bottom picture shows the River Seine where our barge was docked. It also has a depiction of the cobblestone streets of Paris.

bastille day
Bastille Day

Wednesday was France’s independence day. Every 13 and 14 year old boy in the entire city was throwing firecracker’s and M80’s at the tourists. I just wanted to stay inside until the day was over, but fortunately we made it out safely to see a pretty cool show at the Eiffel tower. Click on the picture to see it.


The Louvre

The Louvre was open for free on Bastille day, this is the most famous museum in France where they keep the Mona Lisa and a lot of cool statues.

Headless Scholar


Psyche and Cupid




Last Mango in Paris

We also went to the Pablo Picasso museum, although it had a limited number of his paintings, as I only recognized 3 or 4. I stared at this one the longest to try to figure out what was going on. It’s titled, “The Painter and His Assistant”. I ate a fruit bowl for lunch there. Although the bread, wine, and cheese were really good, I don’t think I’ll eat fruit in a foreign country again, except Brazil maybe.


More sites of Paris

The Eiffel tower from atop Montmarte, where we watched the fireworks and looked at artwork.

Our own personal bidet, it’s to wash your backside, mate.

The U.S. gave Paris a small version of the statue of liberty as a thank you present for the real one.

Paris is home to the world’s smallest cars. You can park them side-ways in a normal parallel parking spot.


Off to Brugge

Home of the world’s smallest gothic window


Sites of Brugge

Brugge is a medieval Belgian town with big churches, a canal, windmills, lace shops, waffles, ice cream, tourists on bikes, breweries, and restaurants everywhere.


Consumables of Brugge

If you like beer and mussels, then you’d like Brugge


Here’s the chocolate shop where I found the truffles for my research group.


Other specialties include chocolate, waffles, and ice cream.


Next Stop: Amsterdam

And you thought the chocolate shop in Brugge was raunchy . . .



Just kidding, I didn’t take many pictures in Amsterdam. We had a safe in our room so I decided to leave my camera locked up. The area where we stayed was pretty nice (Leidseplein square), and it was still within walking distance of the shady stuff that you have to see while your there. There are mostly a lot of bars and restaraunts in the area we stayed, with a couple “coffee shops”. We walked to the red light district one night, but I didn’t partake in anything.

There were other things to see in Amsterdam, like the Ann Frank house, the canals, and even the famous Hard Rock café which has a patio on the canal. We ate lunch there one day, but unfortunately it was raining, so we sat inside. There was also some chemical engineering to learn about there . . .



We toured a plant where they use micro-organisms to carry out a fermentation process to produce a consumable delicious beverage.


Au revoir to Europe

Alas, it was time to leave. I finally caught my first glimpse of the North Sea while we waited for our train back to Paris, and our flight back to reality.


The End

La Fin

Het einde

Das Ende