IFP Énergies nouvelles, France

Tentative title 
“Adventure in Homogeneous catalysis: from laboratory to industrial applications”
Hélène Olivier-Bourbigou scientific and technical achievements focus on the design and development of new homogeneous catalytic systems for up-grading olefins, in particular for the development of eco-efficient and more sustainable industrial processes. That work includes the pioneer design and applications to catalysis of ionic liquids used as solvents and/or as catalysts. These fundamental achievements were transferred to practical applications of industrial relevance. The Ni-catalyzed oligomerization of olefins was one ofthe first development based on innovative choroaluminate ionic liquids biphasic catalysis. This work has paved the way for further applications in the field of refining and petrochemistry (as examples, long chain olefin hydroformylation with Co-based technology, and acid catalysis for alkylation of isobutane/butane or isobuene dimerization). Furthermore, the fundamental study and development of new or improved selective homogeneous catalysts for ethylene dimerization and trimerization (mainly based on Group IV, Cr, Ni metals) have led to the industrialization of processes for selective 1-butene (commercialized as AlphaButol®) and 1-hexene (commercialized as AlphaHexolTM) production. More recently, she was interested in the development of new catalytic systems for the transformation of plant raw materials such as lignocellulosic-based feedstocks, into substances with higher added value for chemistry.

PhD in Chemistry from the University of Paris VI under the guidance of Prof. Henri Kagan and Yves Chauvin. Post-doc at Sussex University (M. Lappert group). She joined IFPEN in 1988 as research engineer, then leader of different projects combining fundamental studies and the development of new processes in the field of homogeneous catalysis for petrochemical and chemical industry. From 2003 to 2020, she has been the Head of the Molecular Catalysis Department (Lyon, France). In 2020 she joined the Scientific management at Rueil-Malmaison as program manager to coordinate the overall fundamental research at IFPEN.
Selected papers/patents:
  • Nickel Catalyzed Olefin Oligomerization and Dimerization, H. Olivier-Bourbigou, P. A. R. Breuil, L. Magna, T. Michel, M. Fernandez Espada Pastor, D. Delcroix, Chem Rev, 2020, 120, 7919−7983.
  • Role of Homogeneous Catalysis in Oligomerization of Olefins : Focus on Selected Examples Based on Group 4 to Group 10 Transition Metal Complexes, Breuil, Pierre-Alain R.; Magna, Lionel; Olivier-Bourbigou, Helene, Catalysis Letters (2015), 145(1), 173–192.
  • Ionic liquids and catalysis: Recent progress from knowledge to applications, Olivier-Bourbigou, H.; Magna, L.; Morvan, D., Applied Catalysis, A: General (2010), 373(1-2)
  • Ionic liquids and catalysis: the IFP biphasic difasol process, Olivier-Bourbigou, Helene; Favre, Frederic; Forestière, Alain; Hugues, Francois, Edited By:  Anastas, Paul T.; Crabtree, Robert H, Handbook of Green Chemistry (2009), 1, 101–126(patent US5104840)
  • Alkylation of isobutane with 2-butene using 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride-aluminum chloride molten salts as catalysts, Chauvin, Yves; Hirschauer, Andre; Olivier, Helene, Journal of Molecular Catalysis (1994), 92(2), 155-65. (Patents Eur. Pat. Appl., EP 576323 B1, EP 553009).
  • Determination of an Acidic Scale in Room Temperature Ionic Liquids, Thomazeau, Cecile; Olivier-Bourbigou, Helene; Magna, Lionel; Luts, Stephane; Gilbert, Bernard, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2003) 125(18), 5264–5265.