Paul Ratnasamy obtained the BSc, MSc and PhD degrees from Madras University. His doctoral thesis dealt with the catalytic properties of alumina-based materials. He also received Diploma in Industrial Administration and Management from British Institute of Commerce (1975). After a year and half of postdoctoral research at Clarkson College of Technology, New York, USA, he worked at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium (1969-72). Thereafter, he worked at the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun (1972-79), moved to National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune and worked there as Head, Catalysis Division (1980-95), Director of the Laboratory (1995-2002) and INSA and Ramanujan Research Professor.
Academic and Research Achievements: While at IIP, he carried out both basic and applied research on catalysts used in petroleum refining and petrochemical industries. Fundamental contributions to the structure of cobaltmoly hydrodesulfurisation catalysts were also made during this period. While at NCL, he initiated research in the emerging area of zeolite catalysis. Significantly, six of the catalysts and catalytic processes discovered and developed by his team have been commercialized in India. His notable contributions on catalysis include models of the alumina surface proposed by him (jointly with H Knozinger) and that of the Co-Mo-alumina hydrodesulfurisation catalyst (proposed by him and S Sivasanker) which are still the currently valid models, synthesis and characterization of 12 novel molecular sieves (nine ferrisilicates, one aluminosilicate, NCL-1, one titanosilicate, TS-2, and one vanadosilicate, VS-2), some of which are in use in chemical industry, incorporating Ti, Fe or V in framework positions of zeolites, or encapsulating transition metal complexes (like phthalocyanines and salens) and Co-Mn clusters in the zeolitic cavities, many difficult selective oxidations (methane to methanol, propane to propanol, benzene to phenol, toluene to cresol, naphthalene to naphthol, etc.) have been achieved at low temperatures with high selectivities. He has authored more than 200 research publications and holds 150 patents.
Other Contributions: In addition to starting and building-up the Catalysis Division at NCL, Ratnasamy was the cofounder of the Catalysis Society of India and also played an important role in setting up the National Centre for Catalysis Research at Chennai. As Director NCL he guided NCL to reach its full potential in both scientific and industrial research. He has been on the Editorial boards of many international journals in the area of catalysis including Journal of Catalysis, Applied Catalysis, Catalysis Letters, Topics in Catalysis, CATTECH, Zeolites and Microporous and Mesoporous Materials. He was Council Member of the International Zeolite Association and its Ambassador-at-large. He is also founder Member of the Indo-Pacific Catalysis Association.
Awards and Honours: Dr Ratnasamy was awarded the Padma Shri (2001), SS Bhatnagar Award, VASVIK Prize, TWNSO Award in technology by the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), International Zeolite Association Award, FICCI Award, Firodia Award, Bhasin Award, Bhangur Award, FIE Foundation Award, KG Naik Award and Viswakarma Medal by INSA. He was elected Fellow of the TWAS, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, and Indian National Academy of Engineering.