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Journal Articles Catalysis Today Year : 2012

The past, present and future of heterogeneous catalysis


This review highlights key catalytic discoveries and the main industrial catalytic processes over the last 300 years that involved commodities, fine chemicals, petrochemicals, petroleum transformation for fuels and energy supply, emission control, and so forth. In the past, discoveries have often followed events such as wars or embargos, whereas the current driving forces of studies, researches and then discoveries aim at a better understanding of catalytic processes, at reducing the costs of raw materials and processes, at developing new catalytic materials and at addressing environmental issues. This review focuses on the history of many catalytic industrial processes, environmental issues, catalytic materials, especially their expected catalytic properties, on catalyst characterisation by physical methods and development of in situ conditions, i.e., characterisation under actual working conditions with reactants and products analyzed on-line. Emphasis is also placed on high selectivity in catalytic reactions and the major challenges for the future, such as environmental issues, energy supply, pollution control for vehicles and industrial plants, air/VOCs/water purification, hydrogen sources and carbon dioxide storage/up grading, transformation of biomass as a promising source of raw materials, and catalytic water splitting perspectives. This review is a survey of heterogeneous catalysis and is not comprehensive but leads to the conclusion that, although many catalysts and catalytic processes have already been discovered and developed over the past century, many opportunities nevertheless exist for new developments, new processes and new catalytic materials. It follows that substantial challenges exist for the younger generation of researchers and engineers, as emphasized at the end of the manuscript.

Dates and versions

hal-00744317 , version 1 (22-10-2012)



Ioana Fechete, Ye Wang, Jacques Vedrine. The past, present and future of heterogeneous catalysis. Catalysis Today, 2012, 189, pp.2-27. ⟨10.1016/j.cattod.2012.04.003⟩. ⟨hal-00744317⟩
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