Quality Control of Catalysts with Digital Image Processing

Catalysts are widely used as an important auxiliary material in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. They are able to accelerate chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy, i.e. they change reaction kinetics. Thus, using catalysts in industrial processes has the advantage of higher productivity combined with less energy consumption. In many processes a mixture of liquid or gaseous raw materials (e.g. petroleum) is transformed in a reactor with solid catalyst material. Depending on the desired reaction, catalysts of different materials such as ceramics, alumina, metal or alloys are used. To save costs, inexpensive substrates can be coated with the actual catalyst (e.g. platinum or rhodium). The active surface as well as the form of the catalysts is crucial for their efficiency. It is important that sufficient free volume is available for the reactants. Moreover, the counter pressure built up by the catalyst must not be too high. Spherical, comb-shaped or rod-shaped geometries have proven to be especially suitable. The rod-shaped catalysts have different shapes; their profiles can have an ellipsoid, trilobe or quadrulobe shape.

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