The first time a catalyst was used in the industry was in 1746 by J. Hughes in the manufacture of lead chamber sulfuric acid. Since then catalysts have been in use in a large portion of the chemical industry. In the start only pure components were used as catalysts, but after the year 1900 multicomponent catalysts were studied and are now commonly used in the industry. In the chemical industry and industrial research, catalysis play an important role. Different catalysts are in constant development to fulfil economic, political and environmental demands. When using a catalyst, it is possible to replace a polluting chemical reaction with a more environmentally friendly alternative. Today, and in the future, this can be vital for the chemical industry. In addition, it’s important for a company/researcher to pay attention to market development. If a company’s catalyst is not continually improved, another company can make progress in research on that particular catalyst and gain market share. For a company, a new and improved catalyst can be a huge advantage for a competitive manufacturing cost. It’s extremely expensive for a company to shut down the plant because of an error in the catalyst, so the correct selection of a catalyst or a new improvement can be key to industrial success. To achieve the best understanding and development of a catalyst it is important that different special fields work together. These fields can be: organic chemistry, analytic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, chemical engineers and surface chemistry. The economics
must also be taken into account. One of the issues that must be considered is if the company should use money on doing the catalyst research themselves or buy the technology from someone else. As the analytical tools are becoming more advanced, the catalysts used in the industry are improving. One example of an improvement can be to develop a catalyst with a longer lifetime than the previous version. Some of the advantages an improved catalyst gives, that affects people’s lives, are: cheaper and more effective fuel, new drugs
and medications and new polymers. Some of the large chemical processes that use catalysis today are the production of methanol and ammonia. Both methanol and ammonia synthesis take advantage of the water-gas shift reaction and heterogeneous catalysis, while other chemical industries use homogenous catalysis. If the catalyst exists in the same phase as the reactants it is said to be homogenous; otherwise it is heterogeneous.
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