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Supports
As much research, work and care is involved in developing appropriate supports as in developing the catalyst itself. In some cases the correct support is what makes all the difference to the viability of a process.

A catalyst support should allow the catalyst to be highly dispersed on the surface of the support. The support needs to be stable under reaction conditions, and under the conditions needed for regeneration. It must not be affected by any solvents used, or by the reactants or products.

oil refining catalysts, showing the variety of shapes used

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the supports used are:

 

 

 

Important physical properties of a support include:

The photographs give some idea of the variety of catalyst forms developed for different reaction systems.

 

 

 

 

 

Different catalyst shapes and sizes

 

 

honeycomb ceramic structure
for a fixed bed reactor (right) and a catalytic converter (above)

 

 

Natural zeolite (left) and Zeolite Y dispersed on support for catalytic cracking (below)

 

 

A variety of supports developed for use in Fuel cells (below)
The layer structure of montmorillonite

 

 

 

 

Surface areas of different supports

Support material Surface area m2/g
silica gel 300-600
alumina 100-300
montmorillonites (clay) 50-300
zeolites 300-600
charcoals 300-1000

 

 

 

The pore structure of a zeolite (right)

New zeolites are being designed with larger pores and catalysts attached to the internal surfaces (below)

 

 

 

 

To learn more about supports, see
catalytic converter
Fuel cells
catalytic cracking
Zeolites
Montmorillonite

 

 

 

chiral organometallic catalyst
tethered to the pores of a solid
support
This is an area of active research and development. These two photographs show the experimental development of carbon nanotubes as potential supports for metal catalysts