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Obituary: Prof Geoff Bond 1927-2022

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Written by Prof Bond's grandson, J. L. Bond, with contributions from Dr A. O. Taylor and other colleagues

Professor Geoffrey C Bond, PhD, DSc, FRSC, passed away after a short illness, peacefully in his sleep, on 9 January at Watford General Hospital, close to his home in Rickmansworth.

He was an international authority in the field of heterogeneous catalysis - the science that underpins almost all major industrial chemical processes. Although he specialized in catalysis by metals, which was the title of his first book published in 1962, he was also active in the field of catalysis by non-metals. Throughout his life he was in the vanguard of those extending the boundaries of his subject. Early work at Hull University featured the use of deuterium as an isotopic tracer to determine the detailed mechanisms of catalytic reactions.

Next, at Johnson Matthey he contributed to the development of vehicle exhaust catalysts. Then, at Brunel University he initiated a wide range of projects, including in 1973 an early demonstration of the catalytic activity of gold – a metal which, until that time, conventional wisdom had relegated to a class of inactive metals. This was a topic he would return to during a highly research active retirement; his most recent article being published in 2017.

His scientific reputation was such that he was constantly in demand as a lecturer and speaker at international conferences and scientific events around the world. In Europe he was an original member of the Council of Europe Research Group on Catalysis (EUROCAT) and served a term as its President. He held posts at Princeton University (1951-3), Leeds University (1953-5), Hull University (1955- 62) and at Brunel University (1970-1992) where he retired as an Emeritus Professor.

At Brunel he was Professor of Applied Chemistry, 1970-1971: Head of the Department of Industrial Chemistry, 1971-1982: Vice-Principal, 1979-1981: Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, 1982- 1984 and Head of the Department of Chemistry, 1985-1990. He was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Salford in his retirement. He was a renowned expert in the field of heterogeneous catalysis and authored more than 300 publications including patents, research papers, review articles and books.

Geoffrey wrote the seminal text ‘Catalysis by Metals’ (1962) and also co-authored one of the first books on Catalysis by Gold (2006), and his work continues to be relevant and cited to this day. He also worked in industry at Johnson Matthey as Head of the R&D Laboratory of the Catalysis Research Section (1962-70). At Brunel he fostered a supportive, collegiate and happy environment for his colleagues; many of whom, Geoff included, continued to meet up for a convivial Christmas lunch long after Brunel closed its Chemistry department in the year 2000. He was a much-liked and effective teacher of physical chemistry and his widely used text book ‘Heterogeneous Catalysis – Principles and Applications’ introduced many an undergraduate to the subject.

For many years, alongside his biologist colleague Alan Lacey, Geoff was a champion of and chemistry lead for Brunel’s MSc degree in Environmental Pollution Science (established in the 1970s). Geoffrey was a Member and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry for over 70 years, and was the recipient of several awards for his work including: his work ‘Catalysis by Noble Metals and their Compounds’ (1979), and as the most cited author in Catalysis Today 2002-2006 for his paper entitled ‘Gold: A relatively new catalyst’. Geoffrey received his education first at The Croft School and King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford-Upon-Avon before going on to achieve his BSc (Hons Chem) and PhD at the University of Birmingham. Geoffrey Colin Bond was born on 21 April 1927 in Ottery St Mary, before moving to StratfordUpon-Avon where he met his wife Mary.

He enjoyed a long and happy marriage to Angela Mary Bond (1928-2013), celebrating more than 60 years of marriage. He is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He had an incredible and agile mind and was knowledgeable on a vast number of subjects, he was an avid philatelist (despite being colour blind), gardener and had a lifelong interest in Roman Britain. Geoffrey had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, as evidenced by his extensive personal library which ranged from Chemistry and Physics, to History, Politics and Religion. He was an active member of the Church of England and was involved in the local Liberal party for many years. He will be remembered fondly, loved deeply and missed greatly by his family and friends.