A history of industrial catalysis 2010

A history of industrial catalysis 2010

(Parte 1 de 4)

A history of industrial catalysis

John N. Armor* GlobalCatalysis.com L.L.C., 1608 Barkwood Dr., Orefield, PA 18069, USA

1. Scope of the assessment

The impact of catalysis and catalysts is substantial. Today over 90% of all industrial chemicals are produced with the aid of catalysts [1]. Industrial chemicals and petroleum refining are interconnected with industrial catalysis. Catalysts impact a sizable fraction of any nation’s gross domestic product. These materials achieve very high turnovers, such as those in olefin polymerization with some catalysts producing over a million pounds of polymer per pound of metal (in the catalyst) per hour! In 1991 it was estimated that the total value of fuels and chemicals derived from catalysts exceeded $900 billion/year [2]. World catalyst demand is forecast to grow to $16.3 billion through 2012 [3] according to the Freedonia Group. In 2003 global sales of catalysts exceeded 12 billion dollars which was up from 9.3 billion dollars in 1998. [4]. Sales are often divided into chemicals, petrochemicals and petroleum refining products, polymerization, and environmental/emissions.

The story of catalysis has been told in the past by practitioners with different perspectives [5–10]. Lindstrom and Pettersson [1] chose to look at the development of catalysis over periods of time back to the dawn on civilization. Hans Heinemann began his summary following WI [8]; Kieboom et al. provided a more detailed review which ended in the late 1990s; and Neidleman focused on biocatalysis only [12]. In 1996, Professor Burtron Davis (University of Kentucky) prepared a very nice pictorial poster presentationon50yearsofcatalysis(from1949)whichisavailable on the W [13] and at the NACS web site [14]. This was originally prepared to commemorate the advances in catalysis during the formative years of the development of catalysis in America and displayed for the 50th anniversary of the International Catalysis Conferences (Baltimore, MD USA, 1996). It steps onethroughthescienceofcatalysismarkingkeyeventsincatalysis over that exciting, 50 years period. B.H. Davis, W.P. Hettinger Jr. also prepared a special symposium series book on an American History of Heterogeneous Catalysis in 1982. This contains a lot of specific chapters on the history around many valuable, catalyzed processes [15] in the US.

This manuscript seeks to provide, on a global basis, brief examples of the development of catalysts into commercial processes. Catalysts are often discovered by more than individuals, rather it is often a team effort. What I would like to do here is describe the history of industrial catalysis on a global perspective and how the work of individuals as well as large teams ultimately led to many of our current commercial, catalytic processes. This assessment will focus primarily on the birth and renaissance of catalysis for more than 250 years from the 18th into the 21st century and focus on the role of industry in discovering,

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Keywords: Biomass Sustainability Emissions control Energy Zeolites Industrial catalysis History Chemical and petrochemical processes

Histories of catalysis have been told by others from different perspectives. This manuscript highlights key catalytic discoveries that led to commercialized, industrial processes. The intent to show how catalysis evolved over the last 250 years into major industries focused not only at catalyst production, but also significantly impacting the production of commodity, specialty and fine chemicals, as well as petrochemical, petroleum, emissions control, and polymerization. For centuries before 1750, catalysts were used to make beverages and foods. One sees that the Lead Chamber process for the production of sulfuric acid is among the earliest of catalytic processes and reaches back to 1750. Pursuit of a sound fundamental understanding of catalysis in the 19th century, led to the application of these materials to a variety of basic chemicals. The development of petroleum fuels led to a vast petrochemicals business whichinturnfedagrowthinspecialtyandperformancechemicals.Newdriversinthe20thcenturyfrom the transportation and the environmental business sectors provided market pull to bring about more catalytic solutions for more industries. The often novel, catalytic properties of zeolites created new commercial applications, while environmental legislation created market pull to use catalysis to meet the new regulatorystandards. As we move forwardinto the new century, we continue to see market pull from growing interests in biomass, sustainability, emissions control, and energy. 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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0920-5861/$ – see front matter 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.cattod.2009.1.019 developing, and commercializing catalysis. Also, the intent is to focus on the driving forces behind much of industrial catalysis and how those efforts were often initiated, inspired and supported by the scientists focusing on explaining the fundamentals of the science. Early sketches of key catalytic discoveries and how they led to commercial processes will be provided. The purpose, in this limited number of pages, is to provide some of the key, historical events, but not in a comprehensive or detailed treatise nor to summarize the many more commercialized processes [16,17]. Rather it is my intent to show how catalysis evolved over the last 250 years into major industries focused not only at catalyst production, but the production of commodity, specialty and fine chemicals, as well as petrochemical, petroleum, emissions control, and polymerization.

2. Catalysis for commodity chemicals

Catalysis was practiced by many early societies without realizing its impact as demonstrated by the production of wine and beer (fermentation), soap, cheese, sulfuric acid (oil of vitriol), and ether. Catalysis emerged from scientistsseeking to understand the chemistry and the origin of the promotion by catalytic materials. Sir Humphrey Davy (in 1817) [throughout this manuscript, specifiedyears areintendedtoreflect the approximateyear(s)of impact of the person’s work] observed the accelerated combustion of coal gas with oxygen using a glowing Pt wire (heterogeneous, catalytic oxidation). Ultimately, society used chemicals to improve the way we produce materials in our environment. This led to the growth in applications of catalysis (often driven by the scientific knowledge generated within the academic community and industry) which began to translate into hundreds of economically attractive, industrial applications. Huge industries emerged around making chemicals, fuels and pharmaceuticals in sufficient quality so that materials and products could be produced in sufficient quantities and at a reasonable cost. Thus, catalysts were discovered and developedas a means to enhancethe productionof these materials. Much of the very early history of catalysis before 1934 is nicely summarized by Burwell [18] and Robertson [19].

Jons J. Berzelius, a Swedish chemist, recognized a common ‘‘force’’ governing various chemistries reported by others and provided an early definition (1836) [20,21] of catalysis: reactions thatareacceleratedbysubstancesthatremainunchangedafterthe reaction. Scientists like Berzelius, Sir Humphrey Davy [2], and Wilhelm Ostwald, working in the 1800s, discovered and pursued many of the early fundamental concepts of catalysis. Others like

Louis Jacques Thenard (1813 studying the decomposition of NH3), Joseph Priestley, Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner (in 1810: Pt black oxidation of alcohols), Ambrogio Fusinieri (1824, catalytic oxidation over Pt) [23], Michael Faraday [24] and Pierre Dulong appreciated the use of various materials as catalysts without defining them as such or defining the fundamental underpinnings [25].

As early as 1746, John Roebuck, an English inventor, began producing somewhat ( 35%) concentrated sulfuric acid in large lead-lined chambers [26]. Here SO2 (produced by burning sulfur or roasting of sulfur containing metal ores) is oxidized by NO2 in large, lead-lined chambers (easier to scale-up than using glass). In

1831, Peregrine Phillips Jr. a Bristol manufacturer of vinegar, developed the more economical Contact process for the manufacture of much more concentrated sulfuric acid using a Pt or later a

V2O5 catalyst. In 1838, Frekederic Kuhlmann [8] filed for a patent on the aerial oxidation of ammonia over platinum to nitric acid. He, and others, appreciated the strategic need for nitrates for explosives production in the event of war without a dependence on distant imports of Chilean saltpeter. Many fundamental issues of science, process chemistry, and global events delayed commercialization of this invention until 1906.

Although catalysis is practiced on a large scale by Nature in the form of digestion, fermentation, and many other forms of enzymatic processes, the first man-made commercially catalyzed processes did not emerge until about 1750 and then there was a gap until the late 1800s. Here, catalysts first emerged for the production of large volumes of key chemicals, including:

Sulfuric acid in 1746 [10] Lead Chamber process.

SO2 oxidation by the Contact Process in 1831. Chlorine production in 1875 over CuCl2 (Deacon process) by HCl + O2 (now outdated) [27].

Sulfuric acid production enhanced by use of V2O5 in 1875. Nitric acid production enhanced by the use of Pt gauzes in 1904.

NH3 synthesis from N2 and H2 in 1905; at large scale at BASF in 1910.

Methanol synthesis developed by BASF (1923) at high pressure over a ZnO-chromia catalyst.

This marked the emergence of synthesis of large volume organic chemicals.

Fischer–Tropsch synthesis of synthetic fuels commercialized in 1930 as an alternative to processing heavy oil, although discovery of the process goes back to 1913 patents by Mittasch and Schneider [28].

The very first commercial applications of catalysis occurred without a firm grasp of the science and principles like equilibrium; equipment for running reactions at high pressures did not exist. Applications of these early inventors led the way for industrial production of basic chemicals such as the synthetic production of indigo, sulfuric acid, hydrolysis of starches, and the hydrogenation of fats. Studying the oxidation of ammonia, Wilhelm Ostwald and his assistant, Eberhard Brauer, built a pilot plant in 1904 to confirm their laboratory studies and theories on ammonia oxidation. In

May 1906, a 300 kg/day HNO3 plant using corrugated Pt strips was brought on stream; in 1908 production was 3000 kg HNO3/day. Details for most of above examples of early, commercial catalytic processes (largely for the production of commodity chemicals and feedstocks) are provided in Eric Rideal and Hugh Taylor’s excellent early book (in 1919) on catalysis [21] and the book on selected historiesbyDavisandHettinger[15].(Theformerbookisnolonger under copyright and can be downloaded directly from the World Wide Web [29].)

At first, we see catalysis as a science being pursued by creative individuals largely in academia seeking to understand how catalysts influenced chemistry. In time as the demand for the production of substantial volumes of these catalyzed chemicals emerged, small industrial companies emerged to make these value-added chemicals. In addition an industry developed for preparing these iron, vanadium, cerium, chromium, copper, and manganeseoxides aswellasclaycatalysts.Thesecompaniesoften employed and/or were founded by those from academia; thus, creating a profession using students trained in academia to add value to the chemicals based on the understanding created in the academic labs. Later, the Kaiser–Wilhelm–Gesellschaft research institutesinGermanycreatedahome forthose pursuing technical applications of catalysis and teamed with those in industry. Some industrial companies eventually generated their own fundamentalresearchlabsinthe1940s through the 1970s tofocus onahuge growth in new chemical products (Dow, GE, DuPont, BASF, ICI, Monsanto, and others). So too, governments worldwide provided early funding of academic labs and then also started to build their own federally funded labs to use and to create new catalytic science. These included the US National Labs at Oak Ridge, Sandia, and Hanford (the latter is now PNNL National Labs); the Max

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Planck Institutes in Germany; the Boreskov Institute of Catalysis in Russia, NIOK (Netherlands Institute of Catalysis Research); as well as other government funding of individuals and centers within universities around the globe. From the 1970s to present, these national labs have served to bring together academic, industrial and government participants in catalysis research. In addition, catalysis underpins many of the different institutes withintheMaxPlankSocietyassupportedbyGermanfederal and state funding.

3. Individuals establish fundamentals; teams emerge

At the turn of the 20th century, we saw individual scientists pursuing a fundamental understanding of catalysis, eventually teaming with others to undertake the enormous efforts needed to develop industrial catalysts:

Nicolas Clement (Lead Chamber process for H2SO4) was a professor at Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris.

Wilhelm Ostwald was a chemistry professor (in Latvia and Germany) famous for his pioneering work in electrochemistry and catalysis. Paul Sabatier was a chemistry professor in France whose fundamental studies included the role of finely divided metals for hydrogenating organic compounds. Vladimir Ipatieff, a Russian nobleman working at the Mikhail Artillery Academy and later Professor of chemistry and explosives at University of St. Petersburg. He later fled to the USA and had a dual appointment at UOP and Northwestern University. He led the discovery of the promoter effect (1909) and paraffin alkylation by olefins (1935) with acid catalysts (solid phosphoric acid) [10,30,31]. He played a leading role in the development of UOP’s polymerization, alkylation, and isomerization processes, and thus made a major contribution to the development of the high-octane aviation fuel. Carl Bosch was a chemist working for BASF with his assistant,

Alwin Mittasch; they scaled up the NH3 synthesis process developed by Fritz Haber from Technische Hochschule of

Karlsruhe (later the Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry). This work on the NH3 synthesis catalyst and process is a major milestone of catalysis.

Irving Langmuir began at Stevens Tech (USA) then joined GE in 1909 working on light bulb problems while contributing to the fundamentals of catalysis especially with respect to surface chemistry. In 1915, he first described heterogeneous catalysis as something that occurred in a single layer of gas molecules (although an oversimplification) held on a solid surface [32]. Sir Hugh Taylor (a chemistry professor at Princeton) and Sir Eric Rideal (a Professor of Physical Chemistry at Kings College) together authored the first notable book on catalysis (1919) [21]. FranzFischerwasdirectoroftheKaiserWilhelmInstituteforcoal research working with Hans Tropsch in the 1920s. Murray Raney (1926) is noted for the unique type of metal hydrogenation (particularly of vegetable oils) catalysts which bear his name [3]. Herman Pines of UOP and Northwestern University (while working with Vladimir Ipatieff) was very active [34] for over 50 years (beginning in 1930) in developing acid and base catalysis, aluminas, aromatization, alkylation, dehydrogenation catalysts and metal hydrogenation catalysts, all of which were very instrumental in a number of commercial petrochemical processes (high-octane gasoline (in collaboration with Ipatieff), biodegradable detergents, and dehydrogenation of paraffins). Paul Emmett’s work provided additional fundamental under- standing of NH3 synthesis and he contributed to the BET method for measuring surface area [35].

(Parte 1 de 4)