Catalytic valorization – enhancing value via catalytic processing – helps in reducing environmental emissions, lowering manufacturing costs, and substituting renewables for fossil resources. The catalyst industry is a $25 billion industry growing at about 4.5% per annum. Increasingly stringent environmental regulations and growing demand for renewable materials have been key factors driving the market. The low production cost and accelerating installation of chemicals plants in the emerging economies of the Asia Pacific region will continue to fuel growth in coming years. Catalytic valorization is a key feature of the environmental, chemicals, polymers, petrochemicals, and refining industries.
First, let’s define catalyst. A catalyst is a material that is added to a chemical or biological process to improve the yield of a desired product. Since the catalyst is not consumed in the process it can be used many, many times for the same process. There are solid catalysts and liquid catalysts, and in some cases even gases can be catalysts. The chemical, fuels, pharma, and food industries employ catalysts in the production of everything from plastics to drugs to fuels to dietary supplements. See our recent blog on catalyst experts.
The environmental segment was estimated at $8 billion in 2018 and is expected to expand at more than 5% per annum thanks to environmentally friendly regulations. Catalysts play a key role in environmental remediation such as vehicle emission control systems and municipal or industrial waste treatment plants. Catalysts reduce pollution and minimize adverse environmental impacts.
Chemical synthesis accounts for another $7 billion of sales and is expected to grow due to increasing demand from many sectors. Chemical synthesis includes processes such as the Haber process to make ammonia, the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert biomass, gas or coal to liquid fuels, and polymerization of intermediates to form plastics of all types. Catalysts are widely used in the synthesis of fine chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and fragrances due to properties such as enantiomeric selectivity, olefin activation, and regiospecificity. Catalytic valorization is emerging as central to plastic wastes or biomass in building a circular economy as well.
Catalytic valorization and the development, implementation, or assessment of catalytic processes requires the involvement of experts in designing, manufacturing, testing, scaling-up, analyzing, or commercializing catalysts. The catalyst expert may assist clients in evaluating catalytic processes and investors in selecting the right catalyst technology or catalyst vendor and in preparing due diligence/feasibility studies and loan/grant applications. During the R&D stage, seasoned catalyst experts can provide insights into advantaged techniques for developing catalysts and knowledge of the vast array of prior work that is relevant to the client’s interests. During the process design stage, a catalyst expert may perform a peer review of the design, prepare risk assessments, and assist with vetting vendors. During plant construction, the catalyst expert might assist with construction oversight of the catalyst handling facility and provide commissioning reports. They may also provide operator training, start-up assistance, and management to assist in making the facilities run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. In matters involving catalyst litigation, the consultant may serve an expert witness and assist the attorneys with understanding the processes and related technical issues and may testify in court about catalyst technology, performance, compositions, and related matters.
Large renewable energy and biochemical consulting firms certainly have experts in the more common areas of bio and renewable fuels, biomaterials, biomass and biomass power, biomaterials, biochemicals and biotechnologies. But they also have expertise in a wide variety of specialty services like catalytic valorization, expert witness testimony, techno-economic analysis, due diligence, feasibility studies, budgeting, project management, technology assessment, insurance, due diligence, risk management, benchmarking, intellectual property, HAZOP, financial modeling, competitor analysis, and assistance with RIN and Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) matters. These firms should also be able to assist with other things like Aspen Plus®, logistics, bioreactor design, municipal solid waste remediation, syngas and bio-based product development, carbon credits, climate change analysis, environmental permitting, equipment sales, experimental validations, grant writing, IP strategy, life cycle analysis (LCA), plant operations, plant sales and auctions, and risk analysis (FMEA).
Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s premier bioeconomy consulting group, with over 150 highly qualified experts serving in catalytic valorization and all these other areas. Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. Most of our experts are also available to advise and serve as expert witnesses in bioeconomy litigation matters. For the larger projects, we specialize in putting together full service, interdisciplinary teams with one point of contact. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.