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75 years ago a young Danish physicist named Haldor Topsøe established a new company based on catalysis. In 1940, catalysis was a little-used chemical process, but Haldor Topsøe believed that one day it could serve a huge, unmet industrial need and at the same time provide important benefits to society. This idea turned out to be prophetic considering the huge importance of catalysis of today.
In 1944, only four years after the company was founded, it delivered its first product to customers, making it possible to use catalysis to speed up the production of sulfuric acid. This product – the first of what would become Topsoe’s series of VK catalysts – was brought to life by combining fundamental scientific research results in catalysis with the concrete needs of industry to develop highly useful products.
Since 1940 the world has changed immensely, but the vision upon which Haldor founded his company – to tap the potential of catalysis and scientific results and apply this to industry – still stands and remains the backbone of the company. Catalysis has become an indispensable part of modern industry. In fact, it is now involved in 90% of all commercially produced chemical products. Catalysis can make expensive processes cheaper, help feed the hungry, turn worthless waste into valuable commodities, and even clean the air we breathe.
Today, Haldor Topsoe delivers a wide range of catalysts and process technology that is essential for producing clean fuels from crude oil and waste, removing harmful emissions from power plants and vehicle exhaust, and raising the efficiency of industrial processes. Haldor Topsoe’s catalysts are used in the production of 50% of the world’s fertilizers, helping the agriculture industry meet the global demand for food. The company’s catalysts, technologies and plant design lie at the heart of the efficient, sustainable production of plastics, fuels, and fertilizers worldwide.
Haldor Topsøe founded the company in 1940 with a vision of building a company that would help create a better world, a need that became more pressing after the Second World War. Dr. Topsøe’s interest in chemistry and catalysis was sparked during his study of physics with the prominent professor Niels Bohr at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. This is where Dr. Topsøe first saw the potential of catalysis.
Topsoe’s first catalyst was for the production of sulfuric acid. In 1958, Haldor Topsøe bought a farm, Linderupgaard, in Frederikssund, where the catalyst production plant is situated today. Catalyst production commenced the following year.
Since 1975, the headquarters have been located in Ravnholm north of Copenhagen. The surroundings are beautiful – completely in line with Dr. Topsøe’s idea: Topsoe shall be a good place to work – and to have worked.
The employees are independent and free to solve tasks using their creativity and curiosity. This also means they have the responsibility to do their best. Our employees are committed to their jobs and to creating a pleasant working environment where care and consideration are of utmost importance.
1940 Haldor Topsøe founds the company on April 10.
1944 The first charge of sulfuric acid catalyst is manufactured.
1948 The first charge of nickel catalyst is manufactured.
1957 Start up of the first steam reformer.
1958 Haldor Topsoe A/S acquires Linderupgård in Frederikssund, the site of the present catalyst manufacturing plant.
1961 The American subsidiary Haldor Topsoe Inc. is established in the USA.
1966 The world’s first single loop 1,000 STpd ammonia plant featuring Haldor Topsoe A/S’s first radial flow converter is started up at Agrico in blytheville, USA.
2007 The company is now one hundred percent owned by the Topsøe family.
2013 Dr. Haldor Topsøe passes away shortly before his 100th birthday.