At first glance, nickel might seem just like the lesser cousin of the precious metals in the field of transition metals. However, since Nickel is also a group ten metal located just above palladium and platinum in the periodic table, it can perform many of the same elementary reactions at a fraction of the cost.
Activated nickel catalyst, also called sponge nickel, is manufactured by first producing a nickel-aluminum alloy, grinding the alloy into a fine powder and then partly leaching the aluminum using sodium hydroxide. The catalysts are employed in slurry type reactions carried out in batch, semi-batch or continuous processes.
Depending on the type of application, Evonik activated nickel catalysts can be produced with different particle size distributions and pore sizes. In addition, the catalysts can be doped with a variety of elements such as Iron (Fe), Chromium (Cr) and Molybdenum (Mo) to be used as promoters in certain desired reactions.
Everyday around the world activated nickel catalysts are used in various hydrogenation reactions, from the synthesis of polyols and bulk chemicals to the formation of organic compounds such as pharmaceutically active ingredients (API) and fragrances. These products are sold in the market segments industrial & petrochemicals as well as life science & fine chemicals.
Evonik’s activated metal catalyst brands are Metalyst® and KALCATTM. The main applications of Metalyst® include the production of toluenediamine (TDA) and 1,4-butanediol (BDO) for polyurethane foams (PU). Other applications include fibers & plastics, fatty amines for fine chemicals, and sugar polyols for use in the food industry. In the case of KALCATTM, a large part of the product portfolio is dedicated to pharmaceutical applications for the synthesis of APIs.
Evonik’s activated metal catalysts are not limited to nickel as the catalytic metal, cobalt grades are also available. Their extraordinary selectivity is particularly useful in the hydrogenation of nitriles and dinitriles. As such they are sometimes the preferred catalyst in fine chemical applications.
Depending on the reaction type and conditions, Evonik’s application technology team will find the right catalyst for your process and offer specific technical support. In special cases, custom tailored solutions deliver the most suitable, cost-effective and resource efficient catalysts.
The catalysts are produced at two sites, Hanau (Germany) and Dombivli (India), ensuring proximity to the local customers. While the German production site in the heart of the European Union has been up and running for several decades, the Indian site, a more recent acquisition for Evonik in 2015, has been operating since 1973 ensuring access to a growing market while offering Nickel recycling services.
Through this acquisition, Evonik is currently the only producer of activated metal catalysts with two production plants and an ongoing technology exchange between the two sites. With this increase of the production capacity, Evonik signifies its commitment to expanding its footprint and enriching its catalyst portfolio.