David Trimm

In Loving Memory

Emeritus Professor David Trimm (1937-2010)

Professor David Trimm has contributed to the study of catalysis for almost five decades. He was the first to study the mechanism of carbon formation on metal catalysts and then became the leading authority in gas processing and synfuels in Australia.

Prof. Trimm was born in England on 27th April 1937. He graduated from University of Exeter major in chemistry with first class honour and got his PhD in radical oxidation in 1961 from the same university. After a postdoc period at Imperial College (1961-1962) and at University of Chicago (1962-1963), he came back to Imperial College as lecturer in Catalysis in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology (1963-1976). He was then appointed as Professor of Petrochemistry at the University of Trondheim, Norway in 1976 before he move to Australia in 1979 to become the Head of School of Chemical Technology of University New South Wales.

Professor David Trimm provided great leadership as head of the school, which had been formed by the merger of the school of chemical engineering and the school of chemical technology. He started to build an outstanding research team and wrote “Design of Industrial Catalysts – Chemical Engineering Monographs" (Elsevier,1980). His achievements in catalysis are reflected by a large number of papers (286) many of which are highly cited.

His professional interests have been focused on aspects of heterogenous catalysis and on steam reforming catalysis and catalytic combustion. He has been the Regional Editor for the international journal of Applied Catalysis since the journal was established until 1998 and on the Editorial Board of every international applied catalysis journal. Prof Trimm was one of the founders of the Natural Gas Conversion Symposia (NGCS) and he was also behind the APCAT conferences and instrumental in creating APCAS organization (Asia-Pacific Association of Catalysis). He brought research in heterogenous catalysis and catalytic processes in Australia to international recognition.

In recognition of his achievement, Prof. Trimm has been awarded many awards among them are: Distinguished Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute (only four have been appointed to date), Applied Research Medal (RACI, 1988); Murphy Medal (RACI, 1997), Member of the Order of Australia for excellence in research and teaching (1998), Scientia Professor (UNSW, 2001), ARC Federation Fellow (2002), CSIRO fellowship – the highest award in CSIRO (2007).

Like many who miss him says “David was strict on scientific principles but had a great heart when dealing with people. He was an inspiring team leader and with his sense of humor and his charm, he was able to create a strong worldwide network of friends, many of whom have enjoyed his and Gabi’s hosipitality in their home at Watson Bay”.

David's legacy in Catalysis continues with the "David Trimm Catalysis Award"  - An award for best paper in Catalysis by a student, presented annually at the Chemical Engineering Conference (CHEMECA conference).