Samara University scientists have developed a new generation of catalysts for the chemical industry
Scientists of Samara University have developed a new generation of catalysts for the hydrogenation process of unsaturated and aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene. They outperform their foreign counterparts, which are now used by Russian chemical companies.
Sometimes the catalysts are called "wand", with a wave of which chemical processes occur in the desired direction and at high speed. They are used in 95% of the industrial chemical technologies, yielding 12-15% of Russia's GDP - in the petrochemical, oil refining, and chemical industry. All types of motor and jet fuels, plastics, rubbers, fertilizers, explosives and so on are produced by use of catalysts.
The problem is that over 70% of chemical catalysts are now appear in Russia from abroad, mainly from the USA and Germany. Therefore Samara University scientists have developed a new generation of domestic catalysts, which are intended for use in industrial processes for the production of caprolactam, synthetic rubber and polymers.
The catalysts are made on the basis of nanoparticles of transition metals - nickel and copper, so they are significantly differ in properties from the currently used nickel- and copper-bearing crusted catalysts. The point is that both chemical and physical material properties substantially depend on the sizes of their structural units. The smaller the size, the more developed the surface and the greater the surface effects are appeared. But in the case of catalytic reactions the activation energy reduces and the reaction rate increases. With these nanocatalysts full process of benzene hydrogenation takes place at much lower temperatures and pressures than with current technologies using foreign industry catalysts.
"When we began to hydrogenate benzene using nickel nanoparticles on a pilot plant, we found that nearly 100 % conversion is already achieved in 25-30 min at a temperature of 100°C and a pressure of 3 kgf/cm2, while in industrial installations using conventional nickel catalysts, the process occurs at 200-250°C and a pressure of 16-20 kgf/cm2",- underlined Angela Bulanova, Professor of Samara University Department of Physical Chemistry and Chromatography.
Industrial use of chemical catalysts, created by Samara University scientists will allow domestic chemical companies to significantly improve the profitability of caprolactam and synthetic rubber production. It will also lead to an increase in economic security of Russia, as the catalysts necessary for production support are now imported from abroad.
To apply the catalysts developed by Samara University scientists in industrial production it’s necessary to test them at pilot and industrial plants that require adjustment of the existing technological schemes. But the result will justify the cost of these works.