Specialty chemicals company Lanxess held an anniversary ceremony on December 17 for the “catalyst laboratory,” reportedly founded 100 years ago in Leverkusen where Germany’s Chempark is located today. The laboratory now belongs to the company and operates as a cross-divisional competence center for catalysts and their applications.
“Experts estimate that 80% to 90% of all industrial chemical synthesis routes today contain at least one catalyzed reaction step. Catalysts ensure that the desired products are formed under mild conditions, safely, selectively and in high yields,” says Dr. Dirk Müller, head of the global technology and innovation team within the production, technology, safety and environment group function at Lanxess. “Catalysis is therefore a key factor for energy and resource efficiency. It makes a decisive contribution to sustainability and cost-effectiveness.”
According to a historical report, interest was reportedly focused initially on “catalytic oxidations, reductions, hydrogenations, dehydrogenations, exchange and addition reactions.” For many decades, the laboratory together with the catalyst production plant made important contributions to the development of highly productive catalytic processes. Many new and improved catalysts were invented, manufactured and further developed there. Numerous operating instructions, recipes and patents bear witness to this, according to Lanxess.
Even today, the employees of the catalyst laboratory play a major role in ensuring that heterogeneous catalytic processes run as efficiently as possible in many production areas, according to Lanxess. They develop, optimize and characterize catalysts for new and existing processes and advise users on their procurement and on the selection and instruction of suitable manufacturers. If necessary, they also accompany the production process. Quality control of the catalysts, problem-solving operational support and process development are also part of their range of tasks.
“Since we no longer produce catalysts ourselves today, we work together with competent suppliers to whom we provide precise recipes,” says Paul Sprenger, head of the catalyst laboratory. “Especially in the initial phase of the cooperation, the quality of the catalysts supplied has to be precisely controlled so that our production plants can produce the best possible products in a reproducible manner.”
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