Catalyst Development

Efficient and stable assistants for chemical processes

For more than a hundred years catalysts are used in chemical industry. According to Wilhelm Ostwald they increase the speed of a chemical reaction without being consumed themselves and without changing the final thermodynamic equilibrium of the respective reaction. Just thinking of the catalytic converter in an automobile it is evident that catalysts are an indispensable part of our everyday lives. While catalysts are often used as extrudates in large-scale processes they are applied as a wall coating in the automobile. We as well employ such kinds of wall coatings in our microstructured reactors. Their characteristic external feature is a large number of channels or cavities of which at least one dimension is in micro- or lower millimeter range. With respect to heterogeneously catalyzed gas phase reactions we normally use the large inner surface area to apply catalyst layers with a thickness of up to several ten micrometers.

For you, we can develop catalysts and catalyst coatings ideally suited for use in micro structures being optimally adapted to reactor type and scale of your process. Catalysts can, for instance, be tested as powder in a fixed-bed reactor or as a layer onto monolithic or micro structured substrates. For laboratory purposes and prototype manufacturing the process of applying the layers is mostly a manual procedure.

Your advantage

  • The small channel dimensions in micro structured reactors allow faster heat and mass transfer,
  • significantly larger inner surface area in relation to the inner volume compared to conventional reactors,
  • optimization of existing catalyst formulations with respect to selectivity and activity,
  • catalyst stabilization for robust use in a real and demanding process environment,
  • large portfolio of long-time stable catalyst formulations available for various heterogeneously catalyzed gas phase reactions.

Our success factors

  • Use of a self-developed screen printing process starting from the pilot phase and initial batch production in order to achieve larger quantities, micro meter precise incorporation of the catalyst into the micro channels,
  • nine test rigs for the determination of the performance and stability of our catalysts by means of cutting edge on-line measurement technology (GC, µ-GC, MS, GC-MS, FTIR),
  • availability of diverse laboratory reactors for test purposes.

In case we shouldn’t be able to meet your requirements using the equipment at our hand we can develop a suitable reactor for catalyst screening based on your specific demands. Moreover, we offer a basic physicochemical characterization of the catalysts via BET, SEM, TEM und TGA. For additional studies we rely on a strong network of external partners.

Typical questions

  • Hydrogen generation via reforming reactions using hydrocarbons (methane, biogas, propane, butane, diesel) and alcohols (methanol, ethanol, polyalcohols),
  • hydrogen generation via partial oxidation of propane and biogas,
  • hydrogen purification, i. e. removal of carbon monoxide by means of water-gas shift reaction  and selective oxidation of carbon monoxide,
  • catalytic combustion of VOC containing exhaust gas and purification of exhaust streams containing carbon monoxide or hydrogen,
  • catalytic combustion for the internal heating of plate heat exchangers,
  • conversion of carbon monoxide into methane (power to gas).
screen printing machine
© Fraunhofer IMM
panel with coated catalyst plates
© Fraunhofer IMM
catalyst plates
© Fraunhofer IMM