Chemical catalysis

In process chemistry, the catalysis of a certain reaction can be mediated either by a biological or chemical catalyst. Enzymes and whole cells make up the biological group, while the chemical group can be said to include all non-enzymatic catalysts. Some reactions can be catalysed by both groups of catalysts, while the catalyst used is not interchangeable in other. The choice of catalyst depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the reaction, the substrate to be transformed, and the type of solvent used.


Hydrogenation, or the reduction of organic compounds, is often carried out in the presence of a transition metal catalyst, such as palladium. The metal catalyses the reaction by adsorbing the organic compound and hydrogen onto its surface. This weakens pre-existing bonds, which enables new bonds to form between the two reactants. As the overall rate of this catalysis depends on the metal surface area available, the metal is generally used in powdered form. To facilitate the procedure and maximize the activity of the metal, it is often adsorbed onto a high-surface material, with the most common support being activated carbon. Common substrates for hydrogenation reactions are alkenes, alkynes, aldehydes, ketones and esters. The hydrogen source for the reaction is often simply hydrogen gas. In transfer hydrogenation, which is common for homogeneous catalysis of polar substrates and a range of other applications, hydrogen-donor solvents such as isopropanol or formic acid are commonly utilized.

Organic reactions, such as esterification, etherification, alkylation and aldol reactions, are commonly catalysed by an acid or a base. This encompasses applications such as sugar conversion, fine chemical synthesis and the production of petrochemicals. By acting as a proton donor or proton acceptor, acids and bases can catalyse rate-determining proton transfers, and thus increase the overall reaction rates. Due to concerns regarding both environmental aspects and general reaction safety, solid acid or base catalysts are often preferred to their more corrosive and waste producing liquid counterparts. The main heterogeneous acid catalysts are solid phosphoric acid, ion exchange resins and protonic zeolites, while some examples of base catalysts include alkaline zeolites and salts, as well as ion exchangers, clays and oxides.

Rotating bed reactors

With the SpinChem® rotating bed reactor (RBR), the solid phase is kept in the four compartments of a rotating stainless-steel cylinder. As the RBR spins, solution is pushed through the filters of the cylinder and through the packed bed within by centrifugal forces. Simultaneously, new solution enters the RBR through the hole in the centre to subsequently be pushed through the bed, thus repeating the process. This allows every liquid parcel to do multiple passages through the bed, which can enable a faster process, higher yields and reduced reagent consumption. By increasing the rotational speed of the RBR, the process can be sped up without risking degradation of the solid phase, which is kept well-protected from mechanical forces. The SpinChem® RBR is suitable for a wide variety of applications, with resins ranging from hard glass beads and ion exchangers to activated carbon and soft bio-polymer particles.

Application L1801
Advanced oxidation process for the removal of ibuprofen from aqueous solution: A non-catalytic and catalytic ozonation study in a semi-batch reactor

Soudabeh Saeid, Pasi Tolvanen, Narendra Kumar, Kari Eränen, Janne Peltonen, Markus Peurla, Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, Andreas Franz, and Tapio Salmi Appl. Catal. B, 2018, 230, pp. 77-90.

Application L1604
Catalytic hydrogenation of d-xylose over Ru decorated carbon foam catalyst in a SpinChem® rotating bed reactor

Tung Ngoc Pham, Ajaikumar Samikannu, Anne-Riikka Rautio, Koppany L. Juhasz, Zoltan Konya, Johan Wärnå, Krisztian Kordas, and Jyri-Pekka Mikkola Top. Catal., 2016, 59, pp. 1165-1177.

Application 9005
Palladium catalyzed Suzuki couplings in a Mettler-Toledo EasyMax™ 102

Heterogeneous catalysis can be an effective tool for chemical synthesis, particularly in the discovery and development of pharmaceutical ingredients. The handling of these solid catalysts is sometimes challenging as it leads to more unit operations in the factory scale, as well as introduces additional work-up in the laboratory.

Application L1601
Deconstruction of Nordic hardwood in switchable ionic liquids and acylation of the dissolved cellulose

Valerie Eta and Jyri-Pekka Mikkola Carbohydr. Polym., 2016, 136, pp. 459-465.

Application 1003
Improving reactions in emulsions using a rotating bed reactor

When working with an emulsion (and particularly with a heterogeneous catalyst) the mass transfer between the phases is critical. Insufficient mixing leads to lower interfacial area per volume, and in turn to poor mass transfer across the phases.

Application L1802
Epoxidation of fatty acids and vegetable oils assisted by microwaves catalyzed by a cation exchange resin

Adriana Freites Aguilera, Pasi Tolvanen, Shuyana Heredia, Marta González Muñoz, Tina Samson, Adrien Oger, Antoine Verove, Kari Eränen, Sebastien Leveneur, Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, and Tapio Salmi Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 2018, 57(11), pp. 3876-3886.

Application 9003
Cascade reactions with a rotating bed reactor in an EasyMax™ 102

Synthesis typically involves multiple reaction steps and the isolation of intermediate products. Any incomplete conversion at the end of each step will compound to an overall lower yield. To make things worse, the work-up of each intermediate can be very time-consuming. This has made one-pot cascade synthesis (the simultaneous execution of multiple steps in a single reactor) a desirable target for chemists. This approach aims to minimize intermediate work-up, reduce the risk of material loss, and enhance overall process efficiency.

Application 1022
Transfer hydrogenation with catalyst recycling in a rotating bed reactor

Hydrogenation reactions using hydrogen gas are usually efficient and clean. Drawbacks are the safety issues of handling hydrogen gas, need for reactors made for pressurized reactions, and the necessity of vigorous stirring to make these solid-liquid-gaseous reactions work well.

Application 1054
Palladium catalyst recovery using scavenger resin

Catalyst recovery is an important step in downstream processing. Using an appropriate scavenger resin and a rotating bed reactor to deploy it, the recovery is straightforward and effective.

Application L2004
Advanced oxidation process for degradation of carbamazepine from aqueous solution: influence of metal modified microporous, mesoporous catalysts on the ozonation process

Soudabeh Saeid, Matilda Kråkström, Pasi Tolvanen, Narendra Kumar, Kari Eränen, Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, Leif Kronberg, Patrik Eklund, Markus Peurla, Atte Aho, Andrey Shchukarev and Tapio Salmi Catalysts, 2020, 10(1), 90.

Application L2003
Pharmaceutical industry perspectives on flow chemocatalysis and biocatalysis

Laura Leemans Martin, Theo Peschke, Francesco Venturoni, and Serena Mostarda Curr. Opin. Green Sustainable Chem., 2020, 25, 100350.

Application L2106
Interaction of intrinsic kinetics, catalyst durability and internal mass transfer in the oxidation of sugar mixtures on gold nanoparticle extrudates

Maria Herrero Manzano, Kari Eränen, Kari, Adriana Freites Aguilera, Johan Wärnå, Sebastian Franz, Markus Peurla, Juan García Serna, Dmitry Murzin, and Tapio Salmi Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 2021, 60(18), pp. 6483-6500.

Application L2009
Synthesis and characterization of metal modified catalysts for decomposition of ibuprofen from aqueous solutions

Soudabeh Saeid, Matilda Kråkström, Pasi Tolvanen, Narendra Kumar, Kari Eränen, Markus Peurla, Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, Laurent Maël, Leif Kronberg, Patrik Eklund, and Tapio Salmi Catalysts, 2020, 10(7), 786.

Application L2209
Chemical wastes in the peptide synthesis process and ways to reduce them

Mahan Haji Abbasi Somehsaraie, Vaezeh Fathi Vavsari, Mohammad Kamangar, and Saeed Balalaie Iran. J. Pharm. Res., 2022, 21(1), e123879.

Application L2309
Screening, synthesis optimization, and scaling-up of phytopathogen antifungals derived from natural hydroxycinnamic acids

Doddy Denise Ojeda-Hernández, Ana Daniela Vega-Rodríguez, Ali Asaff-Torres, and Juan Carlos Mateos-Díaz 3 Biotech, 2023, 13, 13.

Privacy Policy

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. If you continue browsing, you agree to the privacy policy.