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A Spotlight on Catalyst Supports

By Gerald Ondrey |

Fundamental research, using a huge arsenal of analytical and material-characterization tools, is yielding new and improved catalyst supports Readers of this magazine certainly understand the importance of catalysts in the chemical process industries (CPI), where they are used for speeding reactions, moderating operating conditions and minimizing the formation of byproducts. Although some types of catalysts provide their own mechanical strength (the so-called bulk catalysts, such as metal gauzes and foams and amorphous oxides), a large class of catalysts are dispersed onto the surface of a support material, and the support is as important as the catalyst itself. Therefore, making a catalyst system for a commercial production process requires the development of the complete package — catalyst plus support. For this reason, catalyst suppliers are actively working on both simultaneously, tailoring the catalyst system for each and every application. And this entails fundamental research and modeling of surface chemistry coupled with advanced analytical tools for measuring physical properties (Figure 1), such as porosity, surface area, particle size, and more. Presented here are some examples of recent developments in catalyst supports. …
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