Yurii Shaevich Matros was born in Odessa on 16 September, 1937, in the family of a bread factory worker and a housewife. As the Nazi army invaded the USSR, his father went off to war, and little Yurii was evacuated with his mother to Tashkent, where he started to go to school. His father went through the War, meeting the victory in Berlin, and then the family returned back to Odessa.
From the very youth Yurii demonstrated the essential part of his character - persistence and patience in achieving the goal. Having finished the school, he tried to enter the most advanced Odessa"s university - Polytechnic Institute. But he was half year younger than the required age, so, according to the strict rules of those times, his application was not accepted. Yurii did not give up on his dream and became a turner at an industrial plant; his schedule was arranged so that he was able to attend his favorite institute as a free listener (such status was available then for the enrollees). He passed the first exam session with all the best marks and became a full student. He graduated from the Institute magna cum laude in 1959 with the qualification in "automation and control of chemical processes".
The received degree gave him the opportunity to choose any place for work and he selected Novosibirsk, where the Academic Town was being created then. His working career started at the Novosibirsk Plant of Chemical Concentrates, afterwards he worked for the design bureau of the Novosibirsk Chemical Plant, simultaneously passing the extramural postgraduate study in Odessa Polytechnic Institute. During his work at the plant, Yurii participated in the development of the process for oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde in a tubular reactor using the oxide catalysts, which was performed in collaboration with the Institute of Catalysis. In 1965 Yurii Shaevich defended his candidate-of-science (PhD) thesis.
In July 1964, Yurii Matros joined Boreskov Institute of Catalysis, at the position of junior scientific researcher in the laboratory of mathematical modeling, headed by Mikhail Gavrilovich Slinko. In this period, the mathematical modeling was being established as a method for research and efficient development of catalytic processes and reactors, involving wide application of physicochemical principles and computing technologies. This establishment proceeded in struggle with, on the one hand, representatives of the old engineering school, based on similarity criteria, and, on the other hand, proponents of a purely cybernetic approach to solution of complicated chemical engineering tasks. Starting from the 1960s, the mathematical modeling center created in the Institute of Catalysis under the direction of M.G. Slinko and actively supported by G.K. Boreskov appeared to be the leader in the USSR, gradually achieving the top world level.
Yurii Matros, Georgii Boreskov and Mikhail Slinko
The laboratory of mathematical modeling was then consisting of several research groups and Yurii Matros was proposed to create a group of unsteady-state processes and stability. Due to the combination of extended knowledge in the theory of automated control with deep understanding of the essence of catalytic processes, Yurii and his co-workers performed the works dedicated to stability of processes at the single catalyst pellet and in the fixed bed of catalyst pellets, they developed approaches to modeling of catalytic processes with changing activity of catalysts, as well as to modeling of non-stationary processes in fluidized and fixed catalytic beds, defined the conditions of transition from kinetic reaction regime to externally limited one and so on. The most significant role was played by works of Yurii Matros and co-workers on the creation of the large-scale commercial catalytic plants, in particular, practical realization of the world"s first commercial scale multi-bed reactor for oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde at "Carbolit" plant in Kemerovo. A number of fundamental and applied modeling problems were resolved during this development, such as automated control of the process with high parametric sensitivity, hydrodynamic problems of uniform reactive fluid mixing and distribution in large-diameter reactors, the uniform loading of the catalyst in the adiabatic beds. The obtained results became the engineering basis for development of high-capacity reactors, once again confirming the efficiency of the mathematical modeling method. In 1974, in Tomsk Polytechnic Institute, Yurii Matros defended his Doctor of Sciences dissertation "Mathematical modeling of catalytic reactors with high unit capacity".
From the 1970s, Yurii Matros established a new direction in catalysis - forced unsteady-state catalytic processes. In the beginning, his works met with strong criticism from many colleagues in the Institute of Catalysis, as well as from the scientific community, but these works were continued, thanks to the active support from Institute"s founder and director Georgii Konstantinovich Boreskov. Due to Yurii"s dedication and perseverance the main principles of the unsteady-state catalysis approach received the convincing theoretical grounds and, later, the undoubted experimental confirmation.
The top result of this research is the reverse-flow process - the family of original catalytic technologies, based on the unique phenomenon of reaction heat front propagation in the catalyst bed. In particular, the front movement may be created by means of periodic changing (reversal) of reaction fluid movement direction to the opposite one. Reverse-flow reactors enables a significant decrease in the capital costs and energy consumption of catalytic technologies, at the same time substantially improving their operation stability.
In these developments, Yurii Matros revealed himself not only as a skilled researcher, but also as a talented organizer. Thanks to his efforts, the Institute of Catalysis became a leader in the consortium, consisting of many applied and design institutions. The main result of these works was the creation of commercial reverse-flow units for oxidation of sulfur dioxide in waste gases of non-ferrous smelters, which provided convincing confirmation of advantages of new technology compared to conventional processes. In total, some 20 such units were constructed, producing ~1 million tons of sulfuric acid per annum. In fact, the reverse-flow processing involved more than a half of all sulfur-containing gases from USSR non-ferrous smelters, thus significantly improving their environmental protection efficiency. Besides, some 20 commercial and pilot reverse-flow installations (the so-called "rocker" or "rocking chair") were constructed for incineration of volatile organic compounds and reduction of nitrogen oxides in waste gases of industrial enterprises.
The practical importance of these achievements can hardly be overestimated. The success of the proposed approach was undoubtedly proven and was finally acknowledged at all levels. As Yu.Sh.Matros told in the early 1990s "I observe already the third president of Academy of Sciences, who starts his annual report on Academy practical achievements with description of our work". Academician G.I. Marchuk, who was heading the Siberian Branch of Academy of Sciences, accounted the idea of reverse-flow process as one of the most significant during the whole history of Academy.
Kirill Zamaraev (director of Institute of Catalysis), Valentin Koptyug (head of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences), Yurii Matros
These achievements were also acknowledged worldwide and received attention from practically all world companies working in the area of industrial catalysis. This interest finally resulted in signing the license agreements, and the sulfuric acid "rockers" were constructed in Bulgaria, Japan, China and Australia. Notably, the license agreement regarding the construction of reverse-flow reactor at Shengyang Smelter in China became the first international agreement not only in the history of the Institute of Catalysis, but also in the history of the whole Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. In the beginning of the 1990s an important license agreement was signed with US Monsanto Enviro-Chem Systems Company, regarding the transfer of the reverse-process technology and related contract on the supply of catalysts for reverse-flow units.
In the 1990s, after his move to the USA, Yurii Matros founded there the Matros Technologies Company, which was initially responsible for the reverse-process commercialization at the Northern America territory under the mentioned agreement between Boreskov Institute of Catalysis and Monsanto Enviro-Chem Systems. This work resulted in the construction of a few dozens of reverse-flow reactors for incineration of volatile organic compounds in waste gases. Afterwards, Matros Technologies became a consulting company, widely acknowledged in the chemical engineering area.
The scientific achievements of Yurii Matros have received acknowledgement of the world scientific community. He is rightly considered as a founder of the research area related to reverse-flow processes and to unsteady-state catalytic processes in general. The reverse-flow reactors are often mentioned in scientific literature as "Matros Reactor".
Gilbert Froment, Alexis Bell and Yurii Matros
It is necessary to note the unique skill of Yurii Matros to organize the co-workers and to "infect" them with his enthusiasm. The Matros"s laboratory was always remarkable due to its high activity and team spirit. The co-workers and students of Yurii Matros still play an important role in the work of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis. They are Alexander Noskov, Victor Chumachenko, Valery Kirillov, Ilya Zolotarskii, Andrey Zagoruiko, Liudmila Bobrova, Natalia Chumakova, Oleg Klenov, Alexander Gerasev, Nadezhda Vernikovskaya, Elena Slavinskaya, Liudmila Zudilina, Leonid Gogin. Matros"s students Grigorii Bunimovich, Vadim Strots, Hristo Sapundzhiev, Peter Valko, Mikhail Makarenko, Eugene Ugai, Oleg Goldman, Igor Shurubor and many others successfully work for the known scientific enterprises and advanced technological companies in Russia and abroad.
Yurii"s determination and perseverance have been revealed not only in his scientific works, but also in his private life. When he was just 16, he met a girl who became a dream of his life. For seven years he courted her before she accepted his proposal, but he never gave up on his dream. Today the union of Yurii Shaevich and Larisa Grigorievna lasts for more than 57 years and it is the union of loving and creative people.
Students, colleagues and the whole team of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis greet Yurii Shaevich Matros on the occasion of his 80th anniversary. We sincerely wish him strong health and many more years of active creative life!