Fib er based specialty catalyst material maximises surface area and catalyst contact Customisable high surface area catalyst support material offers enhanced production for specialty chemical and industrial catalytic reactions
KEVIN SITERS Alkegen
D espite a long history of adop- tion, catalyst media is overdue for step-change innovation. Additionally, there is great interest in improving the function of cata- lysts in terms of yield and purity. Improving the conversion rates and yield while preserving purity and reducing side products is crucial for catalysts across all areas of use, from oil refining to petrochemical applications to emission control. As a result, many processes have failed to offer a significant stepwise change in terms of performance. 1 In the context of this study, there is a widening demand for propene for use in the production of various polymers; thus, the discovery of a catalyst technology that allows for the efficient and pure generation of propene from propane would be highly valuable to the market. 2 Alkegen’s response to these chal- lenges is FlexCat – a high surface area, fiber based, flexible catalyst support solution that maximises surface area and catalyst contact, enhancing cost-effectiveness, increas - ing yield with reduced catalyst weight in the reactor, and preserving purity. Boosting yield and throughput Historically, the catalysis industry has relied on alumina supports to execute chemical reactions. Alumina shapes – like pellets, spheres, and extrudates – typically are used in petrochemical and processing chemical reactions, while cordierite monolithic or foil supports are used primarily in emission control appli- cations. However, the former comes with challenges: inefficient perfor -
mance, greater expense, and suscep- tibility to uneven thermal gradients in the reactor bed. The benefits of increasing yield while reducing catalyst weight are numerous: the overall installa- tion footprint can be smaller and/ or additional catalyst units or beds can be installed in an existing unit, thereby increasing yield even fur- ther. Currently, the industry’s best way to increase reactor out- put or yield using traditional cat- Current goals for catalyst support innovation entail moving from static, long-established technology to novel, flexible supports alyst materials and formulations is to build out additional units. However, these require physi- cal space availability and addi- tional infrastructure, and can cost upwards of $200 million. 3 Thus, to improve yield, output, and even purity in such installations, the best solutions require a far greater sur- face area than traditional supports can provide. Driving solutions Alkegen set about creating a new option to overcome limitations and expand benefits. With up to 50 times greater surface area, 40%
faster regeneration time, and the ability to increase yield while pre- serving purity, FlexCat: • Improved mass transfer of feed- stock to catalyst surface • Provides a lightweight fiber mat structure, which allows for smaller reactors and lower investment costs • Boosts effectiveness (such as higher yield with smaller units, reducing catalyst load, lowering operational costs, protecting purity) • Increases employee safety across a number of applications Customising catalysis Current goals for catalyst support innovation entail moving from static, long-established technology to novel, flexible supports that afford a significant step-change in yield, purity, regeneration time, and coke laydown in existing installations or new builds. Alkegen brings such a fibrous catalyst support solution to the forefront with a fiber mat that can be customised for a myriad of catalysis operations. It is designed to work across several markets to pro- vide enhanced catalyst effectiveness with increased yield for any type of catalytic reaction, including hydro- gen production, industrial emission control, and traditional chemical feedstock applications. Benefits include: High alumina, highly amorphous fibrous support material: Designed with a high internal surface area and defined surface microstruc - ture, FlexCat can accommodate and directly adhere to active elements including Cu, Pt, Pd, Ni, Fe (see Figure 1 ).
Catalysis 2022 41
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