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Yves Chauvin

Born: 10-Oct-1930
Birthplace: Menen, Belgium

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Metathesis

French chemist Yves Chauvin graduated from the Lyon School of Industrial Chemistry (now Lyon School of Chemistry, Physics and Electronics, or CPE Lyon). He was hired in 1960 at the French Petroleum Institute in Rueil-Malmaison, France, where he was given a free hand to conduct research. After numerous tests in the early 1970s, he explained in detail what causes metathesis, a chemical reaction used in biotechnology, food industries, and advanced plastic materials. In metathesis reactions, special catalyst molecules cause double bonds between carbon atoms to be broken and recreated in patterns that cause atom groups to change places. From this foundation laid by Chauvin, American scientists Robert H. Grubbs and Richard R. Schrock were able to develop metal-compound catalysts for metathesis, which has led to more efficient production, and a major reduction in potentially hazardous waste products.

Chauvin, Shrock and Grubbs were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005, with each scientist receiving one third of the accompanying $1.3-million payment. Chauvin is a rarity among Nobel laureates, in that his career was spent in industry instead of academia, and he achieved his success without a doctorate's degree. "I had no training in research," he said in his Nobel address, "and as such and as a consequence I am in a sense self-taught." Chauvin's other accomplishments include a process for the dimerisation of propylene to petrol, and a process which transforms ethylene to a form of butane. Chauvin was promoted to Research Director at the French Petroleum Institute in 1991, retired in 1995, and now maintains a part-time lab at CPE Lyon. His son, chemist Remi Chauvin, has conducted extensive research in to alkyne metathesis.

Father: (electrical engineer)
Wife: (d. 2004)
Son: Frédéric Chauvin
Son: Remi Chauvin (chemist)

    University: MS Chemistry, Lyon School of Chemistry Physics and Electronics (1954)
    Scholar: Chemistry, Lyon School of Chemistry Physics and Electronics (1995-)

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2005 (with Robert H. Grubbs and Richard R. Schrock)
    French Academy of Sciences


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