Career Highlights of Leo E. Manzer:
2005 Established Catalytic Insights, LLC
Following his retirement from DuPont, Manzer founded Catalytic Insights, LLC. With broad experience in the field of catalysis, process research and development Manzer has established an impressive list of clients in small and large companies. His focus has been on the development of new technology for the conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. He is routinely requested to lecture at conferences and companies in the area of catalytic conversion of biomass.
1997-2005 DuPont Fellow
In 1997 Manzer was appointed DuPont Fellow, one of only 14 in the company, out of 5,000 scientists and engineers. In this highly influential and prestigious position, he had interactions with senior DuPont management and was highly recognized throughout the company. In 2000 he was appointed chairman of the DuPont Fellow's Forum and continued to play a leadership role in that organization until his retirement.
1986-2000 Chlorofluorocarbon Alternatives
DuPont was the world's largest producer of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in 1986 when science linked CFCs to the depletion of the Antarctic ozone hole. DuPont management immediately committed to phasing out CFCs in an orderly fashion, and to develop environmentally safer alternatives such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as quickly as possible. Manzer led the R&D effort to discover potential manufacturing routes to these new products. During this exciting period, over 300 patents were issued to DuPont and $500 million was spent on capital and R&D. Over seven commercial plants were built enabling DuPont to keep a global leadership position with more than $600 million in annual sales. Dr. Manzer was the corporate spokesman on technology issues related to CFCs, and presented numerous lectures at universities and conferences to inform the public about the issues and progress on commercializing CFC alternatives. The catalytic technology used to manufacture alternatives was very diverse, using gas and liquid phase reactors, involving hazardous ingredients such as HF and chlorine. DuPont was recognized in 2002 for this effort by the Presidential Medal of Technology Award. Manzer was one of three scientists recognized for this large effort.
2000-Present Biomass Conversion
In 2000, DuPont's CEO Chad Holliday stated that by 2010 DuPont would derive 25% of its revenue from businesses not requiring delectable resources. As a result, a corporate effort on biobased businesses was started. Manzer played a key role in the effort to identify bioderived platform molecules and to evaluate new market opportunities based on these renewable derivatives. Levulinic acid and erythritol are two examples of bioderived feedstocks. A large number of patents and product opportunities have developed from these molecules, including acrylic monomers for high Tg polymers, new routes to nylon intermediates, lactones and pyrrolidones as solvents and surfactants, ionic liquids and biofuels.
1987-1995 Corporate Catalysis Center
During the 1980's, catalysis in US industry was perceived as being mature. Research funding in many large US corporations, shifted toward new directions such as ceramics and superconductivity. Dr. Manzer became concerned that resources were below critical mass at DuPont, even though catalysis played a key role in DuPont's businesses. He conducted a detailed survey showing that DuPont operated more than 160 commercial catalytic processes, resulting in 10s of billions of dollars in revenue. As a result, Dr. Manzer gained internal support to reverse the downsizing trend at DuPont and founded the Corporate Catalysis Center (CCC). He was appointed Director of this Center, and under his leadership the CCC soon became globally recognized as one of the leading industrial centers of catalysis in the world. At it's peak,the Center had over 150 scientists, engineers, and supporting staff from many DuPont businesses. Manzer was recognized for his management skills by the ACS, with the 1995 Earle Barnes Award for Leadership in R&D management.
1997-1999 Environmentally Safer Phosgene Catalysts
Early in 1997, part of DuPont's plant at Chamber's Works NJ was nearly shut down due to high levels of carbon tetrachloride emissions. The CCl4 was traced to the phosgene plant which provided the feedstock for the important, profitable products, Tyvek® and Kevlar®. Manzer convinced the business to delay the installation of end-of-pipe abatement facilities (many millions of dollars) and to solve the problem at the source by developing better catalysts. A careful and rapid R&D effort indicated that the CCl4 emissions were resulting from reaction of chlorine with the carbon catalyst. A new, oxidatively stable catalyst was discovered and implemented directly into the plant, resulting in a reduction of 95+% of the CCl4 emissions, allowing the plant to continue operation. The commercialization was a 250,000x scaleup from the lab to the plant. Following allowance of the patents, the technology was licensed globally. The new catalysts also resulted in significant economic savings to DuPont due to a 20% capacity increase. The new catalyst has a lifetime of more than 5 years, compared with 6 months for the initial catalyst.
1998-2000 Conoco Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) Technology
During this period DuPont owned Conoco Inc. Although Conoco had large gas reserves they had little expertise in catalysis. Manzer initiated a program, at the request of Conoco, to develop technology for the conversion of natural gas to linear alkanes for diesel fuel (GTL). As a result of this collaboration, Conoco developed tremendous experience and intellectual property in this well-researched field. During this period, Conoco was sold by DuPont, however, the groundwork and R&D effort gave Conoco a world class process in the GTL area. The company subsequently built a 400 barrel/day pilot plant that has operated smoothly and is one of several oil companies selected by Qatar to build over $4 billion commercial plants.
Nafion® is an important business for DuPont and a key component of fuel cells. Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) and hexafluoropropylene (HFP) are the key ingredients in Nafion®. Production of both TFE and HFP generate significant amounts of highly toxic byproducts and the process is expensive to operate. Dr. Manzer initiated a large program to develop lower cost processes for the production of these two monomers. A number of patents were issued based on a wide variety of new technology such as electrochemical fluorinations, chlorofluorination of hydrocarbons, and inductively heated pyrolysis reactors.
1973-2004 Homogeneous Catalysis
Manzer began his career in DuPont as an organometallic chemistry doing synthesis and homogeneous catalysis. During his career he has maintained interest in the field with numerous contacts through DuPont and the academic world. An example is the collaboration with Professor Alper at the University of Ottawa where silica-supported dendrimers were used as heterogenized homogeneous catalysts.