Research & Development, Catalyst Scale-up

The catalyst business is a performance driven business. Catalyst companies must innovate to survive. Innovation usually consists of developing improved catalysts for existing processes, but from time to time there is also longer term research into the development of new catalysts and new processes at the same time. The current interest in using renewable feedstocks for fuels production or chemical recycling of plastics, or even the production of e-fuels drive the development of completely new catalysts and new processes to master the new challenges of feedstock contaminants and green electricity intermittency. To maintain a leading position in a competitive market catalyst companies need to innovate, and thus R&D is an important activity.

R&D differs from other corporate activities in that it does not generally yield immediate profit, it carries a greater risk and it generates an uncertain return on investment. R&D is, nevertheless, a necessary part of the innovation lifecycle and therefore crucial to the longer-term competitiveness of catalyst companies. R&D budgets are under scrutiny and companies are eager to ensure that their R&D funds are spent wisely. Firstly, it is important to ensure that R&D projects are aimed at solving the big issues in the markets in which the catalyst companies wish to operate. In addition to direction, speed is important and collaboration between various research groups can generate a breakthrough much more rapidly and cheaply. Those research groups may be based within the same chemical company, at universities or even with customers. It is important for corporate R&D groups to maintain good contacts with business managers to ensure the research projects they are working on remain relevant. Once relevance has been confirmed, it is important to drive progress towards the milestones at the lowest possible costs.

High throughput experimentation, experimental design, machine learning and artificial intelligence are important tools for achieving the desired insights more rapidly. At an early stage in the R&D project, it is important to consider the manufacturing of the new product and such questions as; catalyst raw material costs and availability, whether it will be possible to manufacture the new catalyst in existing facilities or that you should invest in new capacity or use a toll manufacturer, whether the manufacturing conditions used in the laboratory are safe for large-scale production or special safety precautions might be necessary? Early consideration of commercial-scale manufacturing results in shorter product development times and a faster time to market. 

Catalyst Intelligence can assist R&D organisations in defining the right objectives based on independent market research. We can find you collaboration partners in universities or industry to ensure more rapid progress at lower cost. We also have expertise in catalyst manufacturing and we can assist you with scale-up of laboratory recipes to commercial production. We can also assist in sourcing raw materials or finding suitable toll manufacturing companies. Finally, we can also help you select a first-user, predict performance in the commercial unit, assist with loading and catalyst start-up (activation), and advise on operating conditions to demonstrate the performance of the new catalyst in the commercial unit. Efficient R&D projects and strong partnerships help you gain a sustainable, competitive advantage.

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