A3.7 Catalysts

Practical considerations that affect the choice of a suitable catalyst:

Cost: many transition metals catalysts are extremely expensive
Selectivity: does the catalyst lead to the desired product?
Effectiveness: in general homogeneous catalysts achieve a higher conversion of reactants to products. Only the surface atoms of the heterogeneous catalyst come into contact with the reactants.
Conditions: in general heterogeneous catalysts operate best at high temperatures and pressures, homogeneous catalysts work at low temperatures. So the cost of the industrial plant, particularly to contain high pressures, and energy costs must be taken into consideration.
Lifetime: can the catalyst be reused /recovered for future use? In general this is easier with heterogeneous catalysts. Catalysts can become “poisoned” and cease to operate effectively – does the catalyst need to be replaced or can it be regenerated? This is usually easier for heterogeneous catalysts.
Environmental considerations: could there be a dangerous leak? Security: Companies develop their catalyst strategies over long periods of time with experience in operating their processes. These are often highly specialised and the details need to be protected as intellectual assets either by patents or withholding information from the public domain.
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