One of the things which makes catalysts
stand out as specialty chemicals
is its high profitability of the segment – coupled with high-performance thermoplastics, flavors & fragrances, & food additives, catalysts are amongst the leaders here. While the other specialty chemicals begun to suffer from commoditization & therefore, slump in profitability owing to the surge in number of production facilities & producers, catalyst producers foresaw this threat over a decade ago & they stopped from selling licenses to 3rd parties hence regulating the supply side of the market. Also, all the new production facilities that emerged in the last few years are wholly or partially owned by the current catalyst producers. Hence, such an approach seems to work as a guarantee of sorts.
The cost-effective production of agrochemicals, active pharmaceutical ingredients,
nutrition components/flavors & fragrances gains high importance in the industry. Catalysts play a major role in most reaction steps & their maximum selection & operation makes sure the highest process renders and efficiencies, which also mean lower by-product formation & higher sustainability of the process.
A group of catalysts particularly the ones for chemical production look to possess more promise for demand growth. The anticipated sustainable growth of the economy, globally, the rise in purchasing power of the consumers & the chemical products showing the traditional materials are some of the key drivers that will be keeping the demand for chemical synthesis catalysts high. Some of the important technology tools and techniques used in the design, development, production and analysis of catalysts include:
offers a NanoSelect technology platform – which is an innovative production technology for heterogeneous catalysts. It renders extremely high metal accessibility & gives control over the metal
crystallite shape & size. Catalysts that are manufactured using this technology need typically 25 to 50 per cent lower amount of precious metal, which significantly lowers the cost of use. Furthermore, unique selectivity benefits can be obtained by using catalysts that are produced using NanoSelect technology. NanoSelect catalysts are characterized based on the unimodal metal particles on the nanometer scale. And by decreasing the size of metal particles to nanometer size.
X-ray fluorescence is used widely to analyze the elemental composition of a particular range of catalysts owing to its high precision as well as reproducibility. XRF can also be used for detecting the presence & concentration of catalyst poisons which lead to chemical deactivation. XRF analysis can help in saving a lot of time & money when compared with alternative techniques and Malvern Panalytical renders 3 main solutions such as EDXRF benchtop systems such as Epsilon 4, on-line solutions such as Epsilon XFlow & floor-standing WDXRF systems such as Zetium.
X-ray diffraction is one of the fundamental tools used in the design, development & production of catalysts as it can render information on the bulk structure & composition of solid catalysts materials that include metal oxides & Zeolites. XRD systems are used routinely to monitor the production of FCC Catalysts, and specifically for analyzing unit cell size & crystallinity.
The road ahead
As per the reports, ninety percent of all the commercially manufactured chemical products involve catalysts at a certain stage in their manufacture. The demand for catalysts is anticipate to reach around USD 30 billion, and is expected to grow over the next ten years since the demand for chemicals, polymers and petrochemicals surges, along with the increasing need to decrease process costs, energy use & emissions.
The catalyst market looks promising, like the other specialty chemicals market, and thanks to consumption growth prospects. However, the anticipated growth rate is very low here. One reservation is that the catalyst market is not homogeneous, however, it is broken down into several groups by industry of usage, that tells on the demand dynamics. The demand driver for refining catalysts, specifically is based on the status as well as the outlook of the refining industry, that varies quite significantly from one region to another. Hence, Europe looks at refining capacity rationalization & therefore as a consequence, transformation or closing down of refineries, motor fuel requirements are mature & set - these factors constrain the demand growth for refining catalysts. However, in the meantime, the intensive refining capacity expansion in the Middle East as well as Asia Pacific regions, as well as the integration with petrochemical production via the construction of high-severity FCC units, coupled with the requirements for motor fuels are becoming more stringent in some countries in the region & all of these ensure growing demand for refining catalysts.