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What is
catalysis?

In popular terms, catalysis is a process that accelerates a chemical reaction which would otherwise be uselessly slow. Catalysis makes it possible to turn a great variety of resources into important and necessary products – quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of energy and waste.

The agent that makes all this happen is called a catalyst. The importance of catalysis to industry, the environment and our everyday lives is huge. In one way or another, catalysis is involved in 90% of all commercially produced products – from fertilizer to furniture to the fuel in our cars. It can make expensive processes cheaper, or turn worthless waste into valuable commodities. It can clean the air we breathe.

The heart of Topsoe’s business

Catalysis and related technologies are the heart of Topsoe’s business; we have worked for decades to increase our understanding of this process, achieving major breakthroughs as recently as 2014 (see opposite page). Our customers include the agricultural sector, the refining industry, power plants and a wide variety of manufacturers. The shape and chemical makeup of a catalyst can vary greatly, depending on what it is used for. Topsoe catalysts are often made as a porous pellet that is covered with the catalyst substance (see photo). The catalyst pellets are arranged inside a container called a reactor, and the substances to be transformed (called ‘reactants’) are then passed through the reactor in gas and/or liquid form. The reactants are transformed into the desired product on the surface of the catalyst.

Tailor-made customer solutions

Process design is another important aspect of catalysis. A catalytic conversion usually requires many different catalysts, each with its own task, and Topsoe designs tailor-made processes, hardware and catalysts that work together to meet the individual performance requirements of customers. Staying tuned to market needs and working with customers to discover new solutions has helped us to grow both our knowledge and our business. In the pages that follow, we will show you examples of how Topsoe catalysts, hardware and processes create value for our customers by making optimal performance possible.