Micro-size Catalyst Support Spheres by Saint-Gobain NorPro Address Growing Industry DemandsJune 21, 2017
In the catalyst carrier world, one size does not fit all. Catalysts and catalyst carriers are instrumental in increasing the rate of specific chemical reactions. Porous carriers are the norm in most applications playing an important role optimizing chemical reactions. Internal surface area and porosity are two critical physical properties, among others, that are frequently tailored to a specific catalyst and chemical reaction. The shape and size of the catalyst carrier must also be optimized to balance pressure drop and external geometric surface area.
There is a growing demand for small-diameter (less than 3mm) spherical catalyst carriers, which provide high-geometric surface area, uniform packing, and even flow distribution. These carriers should be available in refractory metal oxides commonly used as catalyst supports, such as alumina, rare-earth metal oxides, zirconia, titania and combinations thereof. Such carriers, with a broad range of physical properties and chemical compositions, are not commercially available.
Saint-Gobain NorPro recently introduced Accu™ spheres, spherical catalyst carriers available from 0.3mm to 3.5mm. Accu spheres can now be developed, prototyped and taken to large-scale production with tight adherence to specifications and high-level quality control. These small spheres are effectively used, for example, in slurry or moving-bed reactors, where coking and constant catalyst regeneration is required. Accu sphere catalyst supports may also be used effectively in micro-channel reactor configurations where small particles of narrow size distribution are critical for efficient and uniform packing.
Saint-Gobain NorPro’s innovative manufacturing process produces highly spherical particles with narrow size distribution and excellent control to average particle size. Building on industry-leading know-how in the customization of catalyst supports, Saint-Gobain NorPro provides tailored solutions to specific industrial applications. The company has developed extensive experience in material science and raw material characterization to optimize the finished carrier chemistry and carrier physical properties including surface area and pore structure. Saint-Gobain NorPro also has 60 years’ experience in the scale-up and manufacture of industry-leading catalyst carrier technologies and scaling up to full-scale manufacturing with consistent large-scale production.
To support the growing demand for these novel Accu™ sphere carriers, Saint-Gobain NorPro has built a 100-ton/year development plant offering customers a complete venue to commercialize their products. The plant processes multiple formulations, compositions and properties, including an expanded variety of chemistries and mixed oxides tailored to meet exact customer requirements. This customer-driven capability is unique to Saint-Gobain NorPro.
Accu™ Spheres’ Key Attributes
- Narrow size distribution
- Excellent control to average particle size
- Control of porosity
- Alumina, silica, titania, zirconia and mixed oxides
Typical Size Distribution
Average Size Capability
Saint-Gobain NorPro has substantial experience in working closely with its clients to co-develop catalyst carriers that improve selectivity, activity and extend catalyst life. Using custom manufacturing processes, the physical and chemical properties of multiple materials and shapes are created to deliver optimal proprietary carriers targeting each customer-specific need. Based on these improvements and innovations, savings for some clients reaches millions of dollars annually for a large-scale plant.